Data Dictionary: ACS 2012 (1-Year Estimates)
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Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Table: B25017. Rooms [10]
Universe: Universe: Housing units
Table Details
B25017. Rooms
Universe: Universe: Housing units
Variable Label
Relevant Documentation:
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2012 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
The data on rooms were obtained from Housing Question 7a in the 2012 American Community Survey. The question was asked at both occupied and vacant housing units. The statistics on rooms are in terms of the number of housing units with a specified number of rooms. The intent of this question is to count the number of whole rooms used for living purposes.

For each unit, rooms include living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, finished recreation rooms, enclosed porches suitable for year-round use, and lodger's rooms. Excluded are strip or pullman kitchens, bathrooms, open porches, balconies, halls or foyers, half-rooms, utility rooms, unfinished attics or basements, or other unfinished space used for storage. A partially divided room is a separate room only if there is a partition from floor to ceiling, but not if the partition consists solely of shelves or cabinets.

Rooms provide the basis for estimating the amount of living and sleeping spaces within a housing unit. These data allow officials to plan and allocate funding for additional housing to relieve crowded housing conditions. The data also serve to aid in planning for future services and infrastructure, such as home energy assistance programs and the development of waste treatment facilities.

Median Rooms
This measure divides the room distribution into two equal parts: one-half of the cases falling below the median number of rooms and one-half above the median. In computing median rooms, the whole number is used as the midpoint of the interval; thus, the category "3 rooms" is treated as an interval ranging from 2.5 to 3.5 rooms. Median rooms is rounded to the nearest tenth. (For more information on medians, see the discussion under "Derived Measures.")

Aggregate Rooms
Aggregate rooms is calculated by adding all of the rooms for housing units in an area. (For more information on aggregates, see "Derived Measures.")

Question/Concept History

The 1996-1998 American Community Survey question provided a space for a write-in entry on the number of rooms. From 1999-2007 the question provided response categories from "1 room" to "9 or more rooms." Starting in 2008, the response categories were removed and a write-in box was added for the respondent to enter the number of rooms. Additional changes introduced in 2008 included adding the word "separate" to the question stem, adding an instruction that defines a "room," adding an inclusion instruction to include bedrooms and kitchens in the count of rooms, and changing the current exclusion instruction by removing the word "half-room" and adding the phrase "unfinished basements."

Limitation of the Data

The Census Bureau tested the changes introduced to the 2008 version of the rooms question in the 2006 ACS Content Test. 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, see "2006 ACS Content Test Evaluation Report Covering Rooms and Bedrooms" on the ACS website (


Caution should be used when comparing American Community Survey data on rooms from the years 2008 and after with both pre-2008 ACS and Census 2000 data. Changes made to the rooms question between the 2007 and 2008 ACS involving the wording as well as the response option resulted in an inconsistency in the ACS data. This inconsistency in the data was most noticeable as an increase in "1 room" response and as a decrease in "2 rooms" to "6 rooms" responses.