There’s bad news if you were looking forward to getting new Census 2020 data next month. You can cue up Shirley Temple singing: “I'm Gettin Nuttin' for Christmas,” because the Census Bureau just delayed the release of the 2020 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year data from December to POSSIBLY March 2022. The Bureau plans to share more details in December. Source

Aside: Here’s a quick reminder what the Census ACS estimates are versus the Decennial Census estimates.

Side Effect of COVID-19
The reason for the delay is that the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted the data collection. For example:

  • “The number of interviews completed in 2020 was 32% smaller than in 2019.
  • The sample had significant nonresponse bias, meaning the characteristics of individuals who responded to the survey were not broadly representative of the population: respondents were more likely to be White, have a college education, live in a single-family house, and earn higher incomes.” Source

What Could Happen
I’m afraid that the ACS 5-year 2020 dataset will not meet the Census’ Statistical Quality Standards and that COULD mean that the 2020 data will be:

  1. released as experimental,
  2. limited in variables, and/or
  3. limited to large geographies.

Hopefully, the Census’ update in December will address these possibilities.

So Now What?
We’ll continue to offer the most current Census data available that does meet the Census’ Statistical Quality Standards -- the 2019 ACS and the limited 2020 Census Redistricting dataset. And then I suppose it’s business as usual as much as there’s been a “usual” over the past 2 years. Making the best decision with the best data that we have at the time is what we do as small business owners, right?

Got questions about 2020 Census data? Well, me too. At least if you send ‘em my way, we can ponder them together. 


Kristen Carney, Co-founder of
1-800-939-2130 |  6800 West Gate Blvd Ste. 132-366 Austin, TX 78745-4868


PS. You Edward Tufte fans are in for a treat. Here’s an excellent article about visualizing Census data.

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