Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version



Cornhusker Economics (April 2012)


Published by University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension, Institute of Agriculture & Natural Resources, Department of Agricultural Economics. Copyright © [2012] Board of Regents, University of Nebraska.


The release of data from the Decennial Census always creates a “buzz” for people interested in knowing what is happening in their communities. The 2010 Census was no exception, allowing residents of any state, county, community, zip code or neighborhood to know with confidence how many people reside in their area of interest; along with their age, gender, race, ethnicity, household and family size and composition, group quarters arrangements and home ownership status. These data reflect the characteristics of the population with relatively high reliability for the theoretical reporting date of April 1 of the Census year, and allow an accurate comparison to any other Census year.

Historically, the Census has also provided data on an array of socio-economic characteristics including income, poverty status, educational attainment, school enrollment, veteran status, employment status, occupation, industry, home values and expenses and disabilities. This was, however, not the case in 2010. This is because the long form of the Census (reported as Summary File 3 or SF3) from which such socio-economic data had been derived for decades has been eliminated. Instead, we will obtain such information from a monthly random sample survey of American households known as the American Community Survey (ACS). The first ACS surveys were delivered in 2005 and included 25,458 (just over 2,000 per month) Nebraska households, resulting in 18,002 returned surveys. Similar numbers have been collected each year since.