On Wednesday, the U.S. Census Bureau will release information from the past five annual American Community Surveys (ACS). The data is extremely specific, detailing school enrollment, jobs, housing, health insurance and many other measures down to the neighborhood level.
"It really gets into the nuts and bolts of American community profiles. They give you information about occupational status, industrial status, population projection and estimation," said ASU Urban Planning Professor Joochul Kim.
Kim explains that a sliver of the population is surveyed, but the information tends to be extremely accurate.
"Probably one percent of the entire nation's households (are surveyed). In Arizona's case it's about 44,000 households per year. Response rate is over 94 percent," he said.
The U.S. Census Bureau says the data includes nearly 11 billion points of information, including home ownership rates, foreign-born population percentages, and labor force participation rates. One question even asks about the number of toilets in households.
"It really shows you whether or not the plumbing is working," said Kim.
The information is publicly accessible and can be used by local governments, private companies or individuals.
"You can start to see patterns," said Nancy Ryan, a project development coordinator with the city of Tempe.
"If the data tells us we are going to have more jobs in the area, that might mean more traffic. That might mean we need bike lanes and wider sidewalks," she explained.
Tempe just completed plans for their 2040 General Plan, which used data from previous ACS reports.
To review and search the data from the ACS survey, click here.
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