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U.S. Census director resigns while data users strategize at annual conference

By: Leslie Black-Plumeau on 5/15/2017

John Thompson addressed hundreds of data users at their annual conference Thursday while news broke of his abrupt resignation as director of the U.S. Census Bureau. Several experts pointed out the great challenges Thompson’s resignation creates. Meanwhile, Census officials and analysts strategized about how to most effectively use the Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) estimates to provide much-needed information about conditions facing the population. 

Since Vermont’s population is so small, ACS estimates for our communities are often based on a very small number of households. This makes assuming that their responses are the same as all households more risky, especially in smaller towns. For this reason, Vermont’s Housing Data Website provides indicators of data reliability along with every ACS data piece for each community and county statewide.

At last week’s conference, Census Bureau officials described ways that the ACS and 2020 Census data collection efforts are collaborating and investigating the supplemental use of administrative sources such as IRS income data to provide the most reliable information possible, given limited available Census Bureau funding. Other changes planned by the Bureau to data especially relevant to housing analyses include:

  • Altering the way information is collected about the year dwelling units are built
  • Revising the approach to counting student residents
  • Updating and improving Compass handbooks