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Oct 20 -- The Census Bureau invites comments by December 19, 2023 regarding the proposed 2025 American Community Survey and Puerto Rico Community Survey.

The American Community Survey (ACS) was implemented in 2005, replacing the need for long-form data collection in future decennial censuses. The ACS is conducted throughout the United States and in Puerto Rico, where it is called the Puerto Rico Community Survey (PRCS). The ACS samples approximately 3.5 million housing unit addresses in the United States and about 36,000 housing unit addresses in Puerto Rico each year. A housing unit is a house, an apartment, a mobile home, a group of rooms, or a single room occupied or intended for occupancy as separate living quarters. The ACS also collects detailed socioeconomic data from a sample of about 170,000 residents living in group quarters facilities in the United States and about 900 in Puerto Rico. Group quarters are places where people live or stay, in a group living arrangement that is owned or managed by an entity or organization providing housing and/or services for the residents. People living in group quarters usually are not related to each other. Group quarters include such places as college/university student housing, residential treatment centers, skilled nursing facilities, group homes, military barracks, correctional facilities, workers' group living quarters and Job Corps centers, and emergency and transitional shelters.

The proposed content for the 2025 ACS and PRCS reflects changes to content and instructions that were recommended as a result of the 2022 Content Test. The Census Bureau periodically conducts tests of new and revised survey content to ensure the ACS and the PRCS are meeting the data needs of its stakeholders. The primary objective of content tests is to determine whether changes to question wording, instructions, response categories, and underlying constructs improve the quality of the data collected. The 2025 survey changes cover several topics: household roster, educational attainment, health insurance coverage, disability, and labor force questions. Additionally, three new questions are proposed to be added to the ACS and the PRCS on solar panels, electric vehicles, and sewage disposal. A summary of changes for each topic are as follows:

Household Roster—The roster instructions have not changed since the 1990s while household living arrangements have increased in complexity. The revisions to the instructions help improve within household coverage, especially among young children and tenuously attached residents.

Educational Attainment—A relatively high percentage of adults are selecting the response category, “No schooling completed.” Ongoing research suggests that this includes adults who have completed some level of schooling. The revision reduces erroneous reports in this category through formatting and wording changes to clarify the response options.

Health Insurance Coverage—Since implementation in 2008, research has found that Medicaid and other means-tested programs are underreported in the ACS and the PRCS and that direct-purchase coverage is overreported, in part due to misreporting of non-comprehensive health plans and reporting multiple coverage types for the same plan (Mach & O'Hara, 2011; Lynch et al., 2011; Boudreaux et al., 2014; O'Hara, 2010; Boudreaux et al., 2011; Boudreaux et al., 2013). Moreover, revisions to the health insurance coverage question would help capture changes to the health insurance landscape that occurred with and since the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Changes to the health insurance coverage question include a change in formatting of the question that adds an explicit response category for those who are uninsured, reordering some response options and rewording response options for direct purchase, Medicaid, employer, and veteran's health care.

Disability—The series of six disability questions are being revised to capture information on functioning in a manner that reflects advances in the measurement of disability and is conceptually consistent with the World Health Organization's International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) disability framework (World Health Organization, 2001). Changes include using graded response categories to reflect the continuum of functional abilities (the current questions use a dichotomous yes or no response), reordering the questions, and modifying question text. Additionally, a new question will ask about difficulties related to psychosocial and cognitive disability in addition to problems with speech.

Labor Force—Labor force questions related to when the person last worked, the number of weeks, and the number of hours worked are being updated to clarify instructions to only include work for pay, to include all jobs a person may hold, and to ensure that military service is included.

Electric Vehicles—This new question asks if there are plug-in electric vehicles kept at the housing unit. By adding this question, we will be able to provide data to stakeholders to project future energy sources, infrastructure, and consumer needs for the growing popularity of electric vehicles. The ACS and the PRCS would be the only data source at the housing unit level to adequately inform these projections.

Solar Panels—This new question asks if the housing unit uses solar panels that generate electricity. By adding this question, we will be able to obtain data for operational solar panels on a housing unit level across the country. This information will help the Energy Information Administration (EIA) match energy consumption to energy production across the United States.

Sewage Disposal—This new question asks if the housing unit is connected to a public sewer, septic tank, or other type of sewage system. By adding this question, we will be able to obtain consistent data on the decentralized wastewater infrastructure status in rural and other communities. These data are needed to protect public health, water quality, and to understand and meet the country's growing infrastructure needs. The ACS and the PRCS are the only available surveys that can provide these levels of data in a timely, consistent, and standardized manner.

ACS: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs
2022 ACS Content Test: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/methodology/content-test.html
Draft survey instruments and technical documentation: https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/e2xh4bo48904apgyd51rx/h?rlkey=dhsc6m6og5gz2xibw0m1rp4ip&dl=0
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-23249

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