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Census Workshop

A research guide designed to be paired with the UVA Library's Research Data Services workshop on the Census. Learn the basics of Census data, and how and why you want to use it.

Data Librarian

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Jennifer Huck
Brown Library 152
Subjects: Data Science

What is the American Community Survey?

Every year, the U.S. Census Bureau contacts over 3.5 million households across the country to participate in the American Community Survey.  Response to the survey (as with the Decennial Census) is legally required.  There is a very wide range of questions asked by the ACS that can be categorized as either "People" or "Housing."  You can learn more about the questions on the form and why the Census asks them

People questions:

  • Age
  • Ancestry
  • Commuting / Journey to Work
  • Disability 
  • Educational Attainment, Undergraduate Field of Degree
  • Employment status
  • Family / Relationship to Householder
  • Grandparents as Caregivers
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Hispanic origin
  • Income
  • Industry, Occupation, Class of Worker
  • Language Spoken at Home
  • Marital Status / Marital History
  • Name
  • Place of Birth, Citizenship, Year of Entry
  • Race
  • Residence 1 Year Ago / Migration
  • School Enrollment
  • Sex
  • Veteran Status
  • Work Status Last Year

Housing questions:

  • Acreage and Agricultural Sales
  • Computer and Internet Use
  • Food Stamps Benefit
  • Home Heating Fuel
  • Housing Costs for Owners
  • Ownership, Home Value, Rent
  • Plumbing Facilities, Kitchen Facilties, Telephone Service
  • Tenure, i.e., rent vs. own
  • Units in Structure, Rooms, Bedrooms
  • Vehicles Available
  • Year Built and Year Moved In

Residence Rules

Will you be looking at areas with a significant population of students living in dorms, seasonal residents, or areas with large group quarters like military bases or prisons?  You might want to familiarize yourself with the ACS residence rules.  For those interested in Charlottesville and Albemarle, note that students living in dorms or off-grounds may be included in the ACS.