How Would Ending the Census Survey Affect Our Work?

    The U.S. House of Representatives last week voted to eliminate the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, in the latest move by this Congress to make ineffective government a self-fulling prophecy. Of course the census has been under increasing suspicion for some time now (never mind what the framers said), but data acquired through the ACS has proven invaluable in the housing and community development field in understanding local markets.

    Unbelievable, huh? The New York Times neatly captured its incredulity in a May 13 editorial:

    “This is know-nothingness at a new level.”

    Indeed. The ACS provides annual economic, demographic, and housing data and helps businesses decide where to build, assess consumer spending habits, and determine hiring practices.

    While the the move will likely face its demise in the Senate, it’s a good time to step back and look at just how this data is used. Recently, we asked some prominent housing experts to identify trusted data sources when determining the heath and trends concerning local real estate markets. Not surprisingly, the census data gathered from the ACS was one of those sources.

    So, let’s hear from you: how would this affect your work?


    Matthew Brian Hersh served as senior editor at Shelterforce from March 2008 to October 2012. He studied English at Rutgers University and has spent his professional career in journalism, policy, and politics.


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