U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey: A Detailed Portrait of America’s People and Places

Throughout the year and across the United States, randomly selected households are receiving an official U.S. Census Bureau survey form. But since it is not a census year, many people are certain that the questionnaire is yet another scam sweeping the community. The fear rises when a Census Bureau representative calls or shows up at the door asking a lot of questions.

Yes, the Census Bureau conducts a full enumeration of the population once every 10 years—just as the U.S. Constitution requires. However, a survey occurs every month throughout the decade that asks a range of questions about population and housing throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. Known as the American Community Survey (and its companion, the Puerto Rico Community Survey), it is the largest U.S. household survey. It is sent to street addresses rather than specific individuals and includes group living situations—such as military barracks, college dormitories, nursing homes, and prisons—as well as individual homes. Just like the 10-year census, responding to the survey is required by law.