Data Dictionary: ACS 2009 (1-Year Estimates)
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Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Universe: Population 15 years and over
Relevant Documentation:
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2009 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Sex
The data on sex were derived from answers to Question 3. Individuals were asked to mark either "male" or "female" to indicate their biological sex. For most cases in which sex was invalid, the appropriate entry was determined from other information provided for that person, such as the person's given (i.e., first) name and household relationship. Otherwise, sex was allocated from a hot deck.

Sex is asked for all persons in a household or group quarters. On the mailout/mailback paper questionnaire for households, sex is asked for all persons listed on the form. This form accommodates asking sex for up to 12 people listed as living or residing in the household for at least 2 months. If a respondent indicates that more people are listed as part of the total persons living in the household than the form can accommodate, or if any person included on the form is missing sex, then the household is eligible for Failed Edit Follow-up (FEFU). During FEFU operations, telephone center staffers call respondents to obtain missing data. This includes asking sex for any person in the household missing sex information. In Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI) and Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) instruments sex is asked for all persons. In 2006, the ACS began collecting data in group quarters (GQs). This included asking sex for persons living in a group quarters. For additional data collection methodology, please see www.census.gov/acs.

Data on sex are used to determine the applicability of other questions for a particular individual and to classify other characteristics in tabulations. The sex data collected on the forms are aggregated and provide the number of males and females in the population. These data are needed to interpret most social and economic characteristics used to plan and analyze programs and policies. Data about sex are critical because so many federal programs must differentiate between males and females. The U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services are required by statute to use these data to fund, implement, and evaluate various social and welfare programs, such as the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) or the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Laws to promote equal employment opportunity for women also require census data on sex. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs must use census data to develop its state projections of veteran's facilities and benefits. For more information on the use of sex data in Federal programs, please see www.census.gov/acs.

Sex Ratio
The sex ratio represents the balance between the male and female populations. Ratios above 100 indicate a larger male population, and ratios below 100 indicate a larger female population. This measure is derived by dividing the total number of males by the total number of females and then multiplying by 100. It is rounded to the nearest tenth.

Question/Concept History
Sex has been asked of all persons living in a household since the 1996 ACS Test phase. When group quarters were included in the survey universe in 2006, sex was asked of all person in group quarters as well. Beginning in 2008, the layout of the sex question response categories was changed to a horizontal side-by-side layout from a vertically stacked layout on the mail paper ACS questionnaire.

Limitation of the data
Beginning in 2006, the population in group quarters (GQ) was included in the ACS. Some types of GQ populations have sex distributions that are very different from the household population. The inclusion of the GQ population could therefore have a noticeable impact on the sex distribution. This is particularly true for a given geographic area. This is particularly true for areas with a substantial GQ population. The Census Bureau tested the changes introduced to the 2008 version of the sex question in the 2007 ACS Grid-Sequential Test (www.census.gov/acs). The results of this testing show that the changes may introduce an inconsistency in the data produced for this question as observed from the years 2007 to 2008.

Comparability
Sex is generally comparable across different data sources and data years. However, data users should still be aware of methodological differences that may exist between different data sources if they are comparing American Community Survey sex data to other data sources, such as Population Estimates or Decennial Census data. For example, the American Community Survey data are that of a respondent-based survey and subject to various quality measures, such as sampling and nonsampling error, response rates and item allocation. This differs in design and methodology from other data sources, such as Population Estimates, which is not a survey and involves computational methodology to derive intercensal estimates of the population. While ACS estimates are controlled to Population Estimates for sex at the nation, state and county levels of geography as part of the ACS weighting procedure, variation may exist in the sex structure of a population at lower levels of geography when comparing different time periods or comparing across time due to the absence of controls below the county geography level. For more information on American Community Survey data accuracy and weighting procedures, please see www.census.gov/acs.

It should also be noted that although the American Community Survey (ACS) produces population, demographic and housing unit estimates, it is the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program that produces and disseminates the official estimates of the population for the nation, states, counties, cities and towns and estimates of housing units for states and counties.

Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2009 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Work Experience
The data on work experience were derived from answers to Questions 38, 39, and 40. This term relates to work status in the past 12 months, weeks worked in the past 12 months, and usual hours worked per week worked in the past 12 months. To comply with provisions of the Civil Rights Act, the U.S. Department of Justice uses these data to determine the availability of individuals for work. Government agencies, in considering the programmatic and policy aspects of providing federal assistance to areas, have emphasized the requirements for reliable data to determine the employment resources available. Data about the number of weeks and hours worked last year are essential because these data allow the characterization of workers by full-time/part-time and full-year/part-year status. Data about working last year are also necessary for collecting accurate income data by defining the universe of persons who should have earnings as part of their total income.

Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2009 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Income in the Past 12 Months
The data on income were derived from answers to Questions 47 and 48, which were asked of the population 15 years old and over. "Total income" is the sum of the amounts reported separately for wage or salary income; net self-employment income; interest, dividends, or net rental or royalty income or income from estates and trusts; Social Security or railroad retirement income; Supplemental Security Income (SSI); public assistance or welfare payments; retirement, survivor, or disability pensions; and all other income.

Receipts from the following sources are not included as income: capital gains, money received from the sale of property (unless the recipient was engaged in the business of selling such property); the value of income "in kind" from food stamps, public housing subsidies, medical care, employer contributions for individuals, etc.; withdrawal of bank deposits; money borrowed; tax refunds; exchange of money between relatives living in the same household; gifts and lump-sum inheritances, insurance payments, and other types of lump-sum receipts.

Income is a vital measure of general economic circumstances. Income data are used to determine poverty status, to measure economic well-being, and to assess the need for assistance. These data are included in federal allocation formulas for many government programs. For instance:

Social Services: Under the Older Americans Act, funds for food, health care, and legal services are distributed to local agencies based on data about elderly people with low incomes. Data about income at the state and county levels are used to allocate funds for food, health care, and classes in meal planning to low-income women with children.

Employment: Income data are used to identify local areas eligible for grants to stimulate economic recovery, run job-training programs, and define areas such as empowerment or enterprise zones.

Housing: Under the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, income data are used to allocate funds to areas for home energy aid. Under the Community Development Block Grant Program, funding for housing assistance and other community development is based on income and other census data.

Education: Data about poor children are used to allocate funds to counties and school districts. These funds provide resources and services to improve the education of economically disadvantaged children.

In household surveys, respondents tend to underreport income. Asking the list of specific sources of income helps respondents remember all income amounts that have been received, and asking total income increases the overall response rate and thus, the accuracy of the answers to the income questions. The eight specific sources of income also provide needed detail about items such as earnings, retirement income, and public assistance.