Much of what we do here at SRTC is based on information obtained by the U.S. Census and its’ American Community Survey (ACS). While the Census only happens every ten years, the ACS is an ongoing statistical survey, with questionairres sent to approximately 250,000 addresses monthly (or 3 million per year). This information allows us to update our transportation demand model that shows how the local transportation system is being used now, and how it will be used in the future. We use this data when determining what projects should be funded locally and it helps us identify populations (such as low income, minority or women) that may be overlooked otherwise, and where they’re living. This in turns helps us to develop strategies to reach out to these people to keep them informed and involved in the transportation planning process.
So what’s the big deal about the American Community Survey? Well, an amendment was passed in the House late last week to forbid any more money from being spent on the survey. This would effectively kill it, meaning this information would no longer be available.
This is a huge issue because the ACS gives annual updates of economic, demographic and housing characteristics, is widely considered a vital tool for business decision makers and a source for economic statistics on growth, inflation and consumer spending. The loss of this survey would reduce understanding about what is happening in the economy and the effectiveness of business and government policy.
The ACS isn’t dead quite yet though. The Senate still has to vote on it. While you wait for that, here’s more from Bloomberg Businessweek.