By: Mallory Bateman
New data, with caveats
The Census Bureau today released the 2020 1-Year American Community Survey (ACS) Experimental Estimates in 54 summary tables for the nation and states and the accompanying Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS). Due to data collection issues and nonresponse bias created during COVID-19, the quality of the data available did not meet the Census Bureau’s standards for a full release. Respondents in 2020 typically had higher educational attainment, higher incomes, and were more likely to own their own homes than the total population. The Census Bureau used administrative data to help inform weighting in order to address nonresponse bias at the state level.
The summary tables are not available at data.census.gov or through the Census API but are available to download here. Due to the unique process used to create this product, data users should avoid comparisons with previous ACS estimates or decennial data and this “experimental” data set. Additionally, data users working with the PUMS should use caution as the Census Bureau optimized sampling for states and the nation, not Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs). Additional guidance from the Census Bureau on working with this data is available here.
What is the ACS, and what are the 1-Year Estimates?
The American Community Survey is a sample-based survey administered across the United States to provide insights into residents’ social, economic, and housing characteristics. Production of the 1-Year Estimates is for areas with populations of 65,000 or more. This structure typically means we receive 1-Year Estimates for the state and a small group of counties and cities in Utah. The 2019 1-Year data was available for seven counties (Cache, Davis, Salt Lake, Tooele, Utah, Washington, and Weber) and ten cities (Layton, Ogden, Orem, Provo, St. George, Salt Lake City, Sandy, South Jordan, West Jordan, and West Valley City).
With the limited release in the 2020 1-Year Estimates, here are a few data points for Utah:
- Within this data, we are still the youngest state in the nation, with a median age of 31.6. The national median age is 38.7, and Maine is the oldest state at 45.0
- Utah has the highest share of family households in the nation at 73.8%. Nationally, this share is 63.9%
- Utah’s median household income was $77,827, the eleventh highest in the nation. The median household income in the U.S. was $67,340.
While this release provides limited insights into the characteristics of the population, it can still provide some context for 2020. Additional insights, available for all communities in the state, will come with the release of the 5-Year estimates. The Census Bureau delayed this release until March 2022.
Mallory Bateman is the Director of Demographic Research at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.