University of Illinois Urbana‑Champaign

American Community Survey Responses Drop Nearly One Third in 2020

Published: April 20, 2022

According to the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), there were nearly one-third fewer final American Community Survey (ACS) interviews nationwide in 2020—about 1.4 million, down from 2.1 million in 2019. Because of this pandemic-related disruption to data collection, the Census Bureau has decided not to release standard 1-year ACS data for 2020 and has alerted ACS data users that they should expect to see somewhat larger margins of error in the 2016–2020 ACS data than in previous 5-year releases.

The effects of a drop in responses are somewhat less pronounced for the 5-year ACS estimates released last month. In the 5 years of collection for the 2016–2020 ACS, the average county saw an 8.4% decline in final interviews. To address this, the Census Bureau has revised its methodology to improve the 2020 portion of the 2016-2020 5-year data. 

PRB has created a map of U.S. counties to show patterns in nonresponse and which counties saw the biggest decline in the number of final interview responses between the 2015-2019 and 2016-2020 5-year data sets.