Data Dictionary: ACS 2009 (1-Year Estimates)
you are here: choose a survey survey data set table variable details
Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Universe: Workers 16 years and over
Variable Details
C08501. Means Of Transportation To Work By Age For Workplace Geography
Universe: Workers 16 years and over
Aggregation method:
Addition
Relevant Documentation:
Means of Transportation to Work
The data on means of transportation to work were derived from answers to Question 31, which was asked of people who indicated in Question 29 that they worked at some time during the reference week. (See "Reference Week".) Means of transportation to work refers to the principal mode of travel or type of conveyance that the worker usually used to get from home to work during the reference week.

People who used different means of transportation on different days of the week were asked to specify the one they used most often, that is, the greatest number of days. People who used more than one means of transportation to get to work each day were asked to report the one used for the longest distance during the work trip. The category, "Car, truck, or van", includes workers using a car (including company cars but excluding taxicabs), a truck of one-ton capacity or less, or a van. The category, "Public transportation", includes workers who used a bus or trolley bus, streetcar or trolley car, subway or elevated, railroad, or ferryboat, even if each mode is not shown separately in the tabulation. "Carro público" is included in the public transportation category in Puerto Rico. The category, "Other means," includes workers who used a mode of travel that is not identified separately within the data distribution. The category, "Other means," may vary from table to table, depending on the amount of detail shown in a particular distribution.

The means of transportation data for some areas may show workers using modes of public transportation that are not available in those areas (for example, subway or elevated riders in a metropolitan area where there is no subway or elevated service). This result is largely due to people who worked during the reference week at a location that was different from their usual place of work (such as people away from home on business in an area where subway service was available), and people who used more than one means of transportation each day but whose principal means was unavailable where they lived (for example, residents of nonmetropolitan areas who drove to the fringe of a metropolitan area, and took the commuter railroad most of the distance to work).

Private Vehicle Occupancy
The data on private vehicle occupancy were derived from answers to Question 32. This question was asked of people who indicated in Question 29 that they worked at some time during the reference week and who reported in Question 31 that their means of transportation to work was "Car, truck, or van". Data were tabulated for workers 16 years old and over, that is, members of the Armed Forces and civilians who were at work during the reference week. (See "Reference Week".) Private vehicle occupancy refers to the number of people who usually rode to work in the vehicle during the reference week. The category, "Drove alone", includes people who usually drove alone to work as well as people who were driven to work by someone who then drove back home or to a non-work destination. The category, "Carpooled," includes workers who reported that two or more people usually rode to work in the vehicle during the reference week.

Workers Per Car, Truck, or Van
"Workers per car, truck, or van" is a ratio obtained by dividing the aggregate number of workers who reported using a car, truck, or van to get to work by the number of such vehicles that they used. "Workers per car, truck, or van" is rounded to the nearest hundredth. This measure also may be known as "Workers per private vehicle."

Aggregate Number of Vehicles (Car, Truck, or Van) Used in Commuting
The aggregate number of vehicles used in commuting is derived by counting each person who drove alone as occupying one vehicle, each person who reported being in a two-person carpool as occupying one-half of a vehicle, each person who reported being in a three-person carpool as occupying one-third of a vehicle, and so on, then summing all the vehicles. This aggregate is used in the calculation for workers per car, truck, or van.

Time Leaving Home to Go to Work
The data on time leaving home to go to work were derived from answers to Question 33. This question was asked of people who indicated in Question 29 that they worked at some time during the reference week, and who reported in Question 31 that they worked outside their home. The departure time refers to the time of day that the respondent usually left home to go to work during the reference week. (See "Reference Week".)

Travel Time to Work
The data on travel time to work were derived from answers to Question 34. This question was asked of people who indicated in Question 29 that they worked at some time during the reference week, and who reported in Question 31 that they worked outside their home. Travel time to work refers to the total number of minutes that it usually took the worker to get from home to work during the reference week. The elapsed time includes time spent waiting for public transportation, picking up passengers in carpools, and time spent in other activities related to getting to work. (See "Reference Week".)

Aggregate Travel Time to Work (in Minutes)
Aggregate travel time to work is calculated by adding all of the travel times (in minutes) for workers who did not work at home. Aggregate travel times of workers having specific characteristics also are computed. The aggregate travel time is subject to rounding, which means that all cells in a matrix are rounded to the nearest 5 minutes. (For more information, see "Aggregate" under "Derived Measures".)

Mean Travel Time to Work (in Minutes)
Mean travel time to work (in minutes) is the average travel time that workers usually took to get from home to work (one way) during the reference week. This measure is obtained by dividing the total number of minutes taken to get from home to work (the aggregate travel time) by the number of workers 16 years old and over who did not work at home. The travel time includes time spent waiting for public transportation, picking up passengers and carpools, and time spent in other activities related to getting to work. Mean travel times of workers having specific characteristics also are computed. For example, the mean travel time of workers traveling 45 or more minutes to work is computed by dividing the aggregate travel time of workers whose travel times were 45 or more minutes by the number of workers whose travel times were 45 or more minutes. The aggregate travel time to work used to calculate mean travel time to work is rounded. (For more information, see Aggregate Travel Time to Work (in Minutes).) Mean travel time is rounded to the nearest tenth of a minute. (For more information on means, see "Derived Measures".)

Time Arriving at Work from Home
The data on time arriving at work from home were derived from answers to Question 33 ("Time Leaving Home to Go to Work") and from answers to Question 34 (Travel Time to Work). These questions were asked of people who indicated in Question 29 that they worked at some time during the reference week, and who reported in Question 31 that they worked outside their home. The arrival time is calculated by adding the travel time to work to the reported time leaving home to go to work. These data are presented with other characteristics of workers at their workplace. (See "Time Leaving Home to Go to Work" and "Travel Time to Work.")

The responses to the place of work and journey to work questions provide basic knowledge about commuting patterns and the characteristics of commuter travel. The communting data are essential for planning highway improvement and developing public transportation sevices, as well as for designing programs to ease traffic problems during peak periods, conserve energy, reduce pollution, and estimate and project the demand for alternative-fueled vehicles. These data are required to develop standards for reducing work-related vehicle trips and increasing passenger occupancy during peak period of travel. The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) plans to use county-level data in computing gross commuting flows to develop place-of-residence earning estimates from place-of-work estimates by industry. In addition, BEA also plans to use these data for state personal income estimates for determining federal fund allocations.

Question/Concept History
Starting in 1999, the American Community Survey questions differ from the 1996-1998 questions in that the labels on the write-in spaces and format of the skip instructions were modified to provide clarifications. Beginning in 2004, the category, "Public transportation" for means of transportation was tabulated to exclude workers who used taxicab as their means of transportation. The 2004 American Community Survey marked the first time that workplace-based tables were released as a part of a standard census data product.

Limitation of the Data
Beginning in 2006, the group quarters (GQ) population is included in the ACS. Some types of GQ populations have place of work distributions that are different from the household population. The inclusion of the GQ population could therefore have a noticeable impact on the place of work distribution. This is particularly true for areas with a substantial GQ population.
The data on place of work is related to a reference week, that is, the calendar week preceding the date on which the respondents completed their questionnaires or were interviewed. This week is not the same for all respondents because data were collected over a 12-month period.

The lack of a uniform reference week means that the place-of-work data reported in the survey will not exactly match the distribution of workplace locations observed or measured during an actual workweek.

The place-of-work data are estimates of people 16 years and over who were both employed and at work during the reference week (including people in the Armed Forces). People 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 are not included in the place-of-work data. Therefore, the data on place of work understate the total number of jobs or total employment in a geographic area during the reference week. It also should be noted that people who had irregular, casual, or unstructured jobs during the reference week might have erroneously reported themselves as not working.

The address where the individual worked most often during the reference week was recorded on the questionnaire. If a worker held two jobs, only data about the primary job (the job where one worked the greatest number of hours during the preceding week) was requested. People who regularly worked in several locations during the reference week were requested to give the address at which they began work each day. For cases in which daily work was not begun at a central place each day, the respondent was asked to provide as much information as possible to describe the area in which he or she worked most during the reference week.

Comparability
This data source is comparable to the decennial censuses for all journey to work variables. Since both the American Community Survey and the decennial censuses are related to a reference week that has some variability, the data do not reflect any single week. Since the American Community Survey data are collected over 12 months, the reference week in American Community Survey has a greater range of variation. (See "Reference Week".) For more detailed information regarding the difference of place of work and journey to work in the ACS and Census 2000, see Estimates about Journey to Work from the 2005 ACS, C2SS, and Census 2000 on the ACS website (www.census.gov/acs) See the 2009 Code List for Place of Work Code List.

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)