Last week the GOP-led House of Representatives voted to end the American Community Survey, or ACS, the Census Bureau’s annual study of U.S. socioeconomic conditions. The largely party-line vote defied the advice of conservative think tank experts, the interests of the business community, and, most critically, common sense.
Data from the 21-page questionnaire are used to help the government best determine how to distribute federal assistance dollars, including Medicaid benefits, and federal grants to states and communities—more than $800 billion in grants and benefits in fiscal year 2008 alone.
Eliminating the ACS “would cause massive disruptions in the federal government” because many formula-funded programs use ACS data in their calculations, George Washington University professor Andrew Reamer told an Atlantic magazine blog last week.
What’s more, business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Business Economists strongly support the American Community Survey, as do individual businesses like Target.
“Census data is really the only source of information that can give us neighborhood-level data,” said Joan Naymark, Target’s director of market analytics and planning, in a video exploring how the company uses ACS data.
So what’s eating opponents of the ACS?
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