Data Dictionary: ACS 2009 (1-Year Estimates)
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Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Universe: Own children under 18 years in families and subfamilies
Relevant Documentation:
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2009 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Age
The data on age were derived from answers to Question 4. The age classification is based on the age of the person in complete years at the time of interview. Both age and date of birth are used in combination to calculate the most accurate age at the time of the interview. Respondents are asked to give an age in whole, completed years as of interview date as well as the month, day and year of birth. People are not to round an age up if the person is close to having a birthday and to estimate an age if the exact age is not known. An additional instruction on babies also asks respondents to print "0" for babies less than one year old. Inconsistently reported and missing values are assigned or imputed based on the values of other variables for that person, from other people in the household, or from people in other households ("hot deck" imputation).

Age is asked for all person's in a household or group quarters. On the mailout/mailback paper questionnaire for households, both age and date of birth are asked for person's listed as person numbers 1-5 on the form. Only age (in years) is initially asked for person's listed as 6-12 on the mailout/mailback paper questionnaire. If a respondent indicates that there are more than 5 people living in the household, 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 date of birth for any person in the household missing date of birth information. In Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI) and Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) instruments both age and date of birth is asked for all person's. In 2006, the ACS began collecting data in group quarters (GQs). This included asking both age and date of birth for person's living in a group quarters. For additional data collection methodology, please see www.census.gov/acs.

Data on age are used to determine the applicability of other questions for a particular individual and to classify other characteristics in tabulations. Age data are needed to interpret most social and economic characteristics used to plan and analyze programs and policies. Age is central for any number of federal programs that target funds or services to children, working-age adults, women of childbearing age, or the older population. The U.S. Department of Education uses census age data in its formula for allotment to states. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs uses age to develop its mandated state projections on the need for hospitals, nursing homes, cemeteries, domiciliary services, and other benefits for veterans. For more information on the use of age data in Federal programs, please see www.census.gov/acs.

Median Age
The median age is the age that divides the population into two equal-size groups. Half of the population is older than the median age and half is younger. Median age is based on a standard distribution of the population by single years of age and is shown to the nearest tenth of a year. (See the sections on "Standard Distributions" and "Medians" under "Derived Measures".)

Age Dependency Ratio
The age dependency ratio is derived by dividing the combined under 18 years and 65 years and over populations by the 18-to-64 population and multiplying by 100.

Old-Age Dependency Ratio
The old-age dependency ratio is derived by dividing the population 65 years and over by the 18-to-64 population and multiplying by 100.

Child Dependency Ratio
The child dependency ratio is derived by dividing the population under 18 years by the 18-to-64 population, and multiplying by 100.

Question/Concept History
The 1996-2002 American Community Survey question asked for month, day, and year of birth before age. Since 2003, the American Community Survey question asked for age, followed by month, day, and year of birth. In 2008, an additional instruction was provided with the age and date of birth question on the American Community Survey questionnaire to report babies as age 0 when the child was less than 1 year old. The addition of this instruction occurred after 2005 National Census Test results indicated increased accuracy of age reporting for babies less than one year old.

Limitation of the Data
Beginning in 2006, the population living in group quarters (GQ) was included in the American Community Survey population universe. Some types of group quarters have populations with age distributions that are very different from that of the household population. The inclusion of the GQ population could therefore have a noticeable impact on the age distribution for a given geographic area. This is particularly true for areas with a substantial GQ population. For example, in areas with large colleges and universities, the percent of individuals 18-24 would increase due to the inclusion of GQs in the American Community Survey universe.

Comparability
Caution should be taken when comparing population in age groups across time. The entire population continually ages into older age groups over time, and babies fill in the youngest age group. Therefore, the population of a certain age is made up of a completely different group of people in one time period than in another (e.g. one age group in 2000 versus same age group in 2009). Since populations occasionally experience booms/increases and busts/decreases in births, deaths, or migration (for example, the postwar Baby Boom from 1946-1964), one should not necessarily expect that the population in an age group in one year should be similar in size or proportion to the population in the same age group in a different period in time. For example, Baby Boomers were age 36 to 54 in Census 2000 while they were age 45 to 63 in 2009 ACS. The age structure and distribution would therefore shift in those age groups to reflect the change in people occupying those age-specific groups over time.

Data users should also be aware of methodology differences that may exist between different data sources if they are comparing American Community Survey age data to 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 error. 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 age at the nation, state and county levels of geography as part of the ACS weighting procedure, variation may exist in the age 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 theofficial estimates of the population for the nation, states, counties, cities and towns and estimates of housing units for states and counties. (Please refer to: factfinder.census.gov/home/en/official_estimates_2008.html)

Own Child
A never-married child under 18 years who is a son or daughter by birth, a stepchild, or an adopted child of the householder. In certain tabulations, own children are further classified as living with two parents or with one parent only. Own children of the householder living with two parents are by definition found only in married-couple families. (Note: When used in "Employment Status" tabulations, own child refers to a never married child under the age of 18 in a family or a subfamily who is a son or daughter, by birth, marriage, or adoption, of a member of the householder's family, but not necessarily of the householder.)

Family Households
A family consists of a householder and one or more other people living in the same household who are related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption. All people in a household who are related to the householder are regarded as members of his or her family. A family household may contain people not related to the householder, but those people are not included as part of the householder's family in tabulations. Thus, the number of family households is equal to the number of families, but family households may include more members than do families. A household can contain only one family for purposes of tabulations. Not all households contain families since a household may be comprised of a group of unrelated people or of one person living alone - these are called nonfamily households. Families are classified by type as either a "married-couple family" or "other family" according to the sex of the householder and the presence of relatives. The data on family type are based on answers to questions on sex and relationship that were asked of all people.

  • Married-Couple Family - A family in which the householder and his or her spouse are listed as members of the same household.
  • Other Family: Male Householder, No Wife Present - A family with a male householder and no spouse of householder present.
  • Female Householder, No Husband Present - A family with a female householder and no spouse of householder present.


Family households and married-couple families do not include same-sex married couples even if the marriage was performed in a state issuing marriage certificates for same-sex couples. Same sex couple households are included in the family households category if there is at least one additional person related to the householder by birth or adoption.

Subfamily
A subfamily is a married couple (husband and wife interviewed as members of the same household) with or without never-married children under 18 years old, or one parent with one or more never-married children under 18 years old. A subfamily does not maintain its own household, but lives in a household where the householder or householder's spouse is a relative. The number of subfamilies is not included in the count of families, since subfamily members are counted as part of the householder's family. Subfamilies are defined during processing of data. In selected tabulations, subfamilies are further classified by type: married-couple subfamilies, with or without own children; mother-child subfamilies; and father-child subfamilies.

In some labor force tabulations, children in both one-parent families and one-parent subfamilies are included in the total number of children living with one parent, while children in both married-couple families and married-couple subfamilies are included in the total number of children living with two parents.

Household Type and Relationship
The data on relationship to householder were derived from answers to Question 2, relationship to the householder, which was asked of all people in housing units. The question on relationship is essential for classifying the population info families and other groups. Information about changes in the composition of the American family, from the number of people living alone to the number of children living with only one parent, is essential for planning and carrying out a number of federal programs, such as families in poverty.

The responses to this question were used to determine the relationships of all persons to the householder, as well as household type (married couple family, nonfamily, etc.). From responses to this question, we were able to determine numbers of related children, own children, unmarried partner households, and multigenerational households. We calculated average household and family size. When relationship was not reported, it was imputed using the age difference between the householder and the person, sex, and marital status.

Household
A household includes all the people who occupy a housing unit. (People not living in households are classified as living in group quarters.) A housing unit is a house, an apartment, a mobile home, a group of rooms, or a single room that is occupied (or if vacant, is intended for occupancy) as separate living quarters. Separate living quarters are those in which the occupants live separately from any other people in the building and which have direct access from the outside of the building or through a common hall. The occupants may be a single family, one person living alone, two or more families living together, or any other group of related or unrelated people who share living arrangements.

Average Household Size
A measure obtained by dividing the number of people in households by the number of households. In cases where people in households are cross-classified by race or Hispanic origin, people in the household are classified by the race or Hispanic origin of the householder rather than the race or Hispanic origin of each individual. Average household size is rounded to the nearest hundredth.

Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2009 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
 
Employment Status
The data on employment status were derived from Questions 29 and 35 to 37 in the 2009 American Community Survey. (In the 1999-2002 American Community Survey, data were derived from Questions 22 and 28 to 30; in the 1996-1998 American Community Survey, data were derived from Questions 21 and 28 to 30.) The questions were asked of all people 15 years old and over. The series of questions on employment status was designed to identify, in this sequence: (1) people who worked at any time during the reference week; (2) people on temporary layoff who were available for work; (3) people who did not work during the reference week but who had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent (excluding layoff); (4) people who did not work during the reference week, but who were looking for work during the last four weeks and were available for work during the reference week; and (5) people not in the labor force. (For more information, see the discussion under "Reference Week.")

The employment status data shown in American Community Survey tabulations relate to people 16 years old and over.

Employment status is key to understanding work and unemployment patterns and the availability of workers. Based on labor market areas and unemployment levels, the U.S. Department of Labor identifies service delivery areas and determines amounts to be allocated to each for job training. The impact of immigration on the economy and job markets is determined partially by labor force data, and this information is included in required reports to Congress. The Office of Management and Budget, under the Paperwork Reduction Act, uses data about employed workers as part of the criteria for defining metropolitan areas. The Bureau of Economic Analysis uses this information, in conjunction with other data, to develop its state per capita income estimates used in the allocation formulas and eligibility criteria for many federal programs such as Medicaid.

Employed
This category includes all civilians 16 years old and over who either (1) were "at work," that is, those who did any work at all during the reference week as paid employees, worked in their own business or profession, worked on their own farm, or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers on a family farm or in a family business; or (2) were "with a job but not at work", that is, those who did not work during the reference week but had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent due to illness, bad weather, industrial dispute, vacation, or other personal reasons. Excluded from the employed are people whose only activity consisted of work around the house or unpaid volunteer work for religious, charitable, and similar organizations; also excluded are all institutionalized people and people on active duty in the United States Armed Forces.

Civilian Employed
This term is defined exactly the same as the term employed above.

Unemployed
All civilians 16 years old and over are classified as unemployed if they (1) were neither "at work" nor "with a job but not at work" during the reference week, and (2) were actively looking for work during the last 4 weeks, and (3) were available to start a job. Also included as unemployed are civilians who did not work at all during the reference week, were waiting to be called back to a job from which they had been laid off, and were available for work except for temporary illness. Examples of job seeking activities are:

  • Registering at a public or private employment office
  • Meeting with prospective employers
  • Investigating possibilities for starting a professional practice or opening a business
  • Placing or answering advertisements
  • Writing letters of application
  • Being on a union or professional register


Civilian Labor Force
Consists of people classified as employed or unemployed in accordance with the criteria described above.

Unemployment Rate
The unemployment rate represents the number of unemployed people as a percentage of the civilian labor force. For example, if the civilian labor force equals 100 people and 7 people are unemployed, then the unemployment rate would be 7 percent.

Labor Force
All people classified in the civilian labor force plus members of the U.S. Armed Forces (people on active duty with the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard).

Labor Force Participation Rate
The labor force participation rate represents the proportion of the population that is in the labor force. For example, if there are 100 people in the population 16 years and over, and 64 of them are in the labor force, then the labor force participation rate for the population 16 years and over would be 64 percent.

Not in Labor Force
All people 16 years old and over who are not classified as members of the labor force. This category consists mainly of students, homemakers, retired workers, seasonal workers interviewed in an off season who were not looking for work, institutionalized people, and people doing only incidental unpaid family work (less than 15 hours during the reference week).

Worker
This term appears in connection with several subjects: employment status, journey-to-work questions, class of worker, weeks worked in the past 12 months, and number of workers in family in the past 12 months. The meaning varies and, therefore, should be determined in each case by referring to the definition of the subject in which it appears. When used in the concepts "workers in family" and "full-time, year-round workers," the term "worker" relates to the meaning of work defined for the "work experience" subject.

Question/Concept History
Worked Last Week (Question 29): From 1999-2007, an italicized instruction was added to the question to help respondents determine what to count as work. Starting in 2008, the instruction was removed and the question was separated into two parts in an effort to give respondents - particularly people with irregular kinds of work arrangements - two opportunities to grasp and respond to the correct intent of the question.

On Layoff (Question 35a): Starting in 1999, the "Yes, on temporary layoff from most recent job" and "Yes, permanently laid off from most recent job" response categories were condensed into a single "Yes" category. An additional question (Q35b) was added to determine the temporary/permanent layoff distinction. Temporarily Absent (Question 35b): Starting in 2008, the temporarily absent question included a revised list of examples of work absences.

Recalled to Work (Question 35c): This question was added in the 1999 American Community Survey to determine if a respondent who reported being on layoff from a job had been informed that he or she would be recalled to work within 6 months or been given a date to return to work.

Looking for Work (Question 36): Starting in 2008, the actively looking for work question was modified to emphasize 'active' job-searching activities.

Available to Work (Question 37): Starting in 1999, the "Yes, if a job had been offered" and "Yes, if recalled from layoff" response categories were condensed into one category, "Yes, could have gone to work." Starting in 2008, the actively looking for work question was modified to emphasize 'active' job-searching activities.

Limitation of the Data
The data may understate the number of employed people because people who have irregular, casual, or unstructured jobs sometimes report themselves as not working. The number of employed people "at work" is probably overstated in the data (and conversely, the number of employed "with a job, but not at work" is understated) since some people on vacation or sick leave erroneously reported themselves as working. This problem has no effect on the total number of employed people. The reference week for the employment data is not the same for all people. Since people can change their employment status from one week to another, the lack of a uniform reference week may mean that the employment data do not reflect the reality of the employment situation of any given week. (For more information, see the discussion under "Reference Week.")

Beginning in 2006, the population in group quarters (GQ) is included in the ACS. Some types of GQ populations have employment status distributions that are different from the household population. All institutionalized people are placed in the not in labor force category. The inclusion of the GQ population could therefore have a noticeable impact on the employment status distribution. This is particularly true for areas with a substantial GQ population. For example, in areas having a large state prison population, the employment rate would be expected to decrease because the base of the percentage, which now includes the population in correctional institutions, is larger. The Census Bureau tested the changes introduced to the 2008 version of the employment status questions in the 2006 ACS Content Test. The results of this testing show that the changes may introduce an inconsistency in the data produced for these questions as observed from the years 2007 to 2008, see "2006 ACS Content Test Evaluation Report Covering Employment Status" on the ACS website (www.census.gov/acs).

Along with the 2008 ACS release, the Census Bureau produced a research note comparing 2007 and 2008 ACS employment estimates to 2007 and 2008 Current Population Survey (CPS)/Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) estimates. The research note shows that the changes to the employment status series of questions in the 2008 ACS will make ACS labor force data more consistent with benchmark data from the CPS and LAUS program. For more information, see "Changes to the American Community Survey between 2007 and 2008 and the Effects on the Estimates of Employment and Unemployment" (http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/laborfor/researchnote092209.html).

Comparability
Since employment data from the American Community Survey are obtained from respondents in households, they differ from statistics based on reports from individual business establishments, farm enterprises, and certain government programs. People employed at more than one job are counted only once in the American Community Survey and are classified according to the job at which they worked the greatest number of hours during the reference week. In statistics based on reports from business and farm establishments, people who work for more than one establishment may be counted more than once. Moreover, some tabulations may exclude private household workers, unpaid family workers, and self-employed people, but may include workers less than 16 years of age.

An additional difference in the data arises from the fact that people who had a job but were not at work are included with the employed in the American Community Survey statistics, whereas many of these people are likely to be excluded from employment figures based on establishment payroll reports. Furthermore, the employment status data in tabulations include people on the basis of place of residence regardless of where they work, whereas establishment data report people at their place of work regardless of where they live. This latter consideration is particularly significant when comparing data for workers who commute between areas.

For several reasons, the unemployment figures of the Census Bureau are not comparable with published figures on unemployment compensation claims. For example, figures on unemployment compensation claims exclude people who have exhausted their benefit rights, new workers who have not earned rights to unemployment insurance, and people losing jobs not covered by unemployment insurance systems (including some workers in agriculture, domestic services, and religious organizations, and self-employed and unpaid family workers). In addition, the qualifications for drawing unemployment compensation differ from the definition of unemployment used by the Census Bureau. People working only a few hours during the week and people "with a job but not at work" are sometimes eligible for unemployment compensation but are classified as "Employed" in the American Community Survey. Differences in the geographical distribution of unemployment data arise because the place where claims are filed may not necessarily be the same as the place of residence of the unemployed worker.

For guidance on differences in employment and unemployment estimates from different sources, go to http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/laborfor/laborguidance082504.html.