April 22, 2014

Census may change some questions after pushback from public

The U.S. Census Bureau is considering whether to drop some questions that it has used for decades from its largest household survey of Americans. First under review are four of the touchiest topics: Plumbing, commuting, income and disability.

Census questions in the American Community Survey on income that may be changedThe questions being rethought number more than a dozen that fall under those four topics, including: Does your house have a flush toilet? What time did you usually leave home to go to work last week? What was your total income during the past 12 months? Do you have trouble concentrating, remembering or making decisions because of a physical, mental and emotional condition?

Three million households a year are asked these questions—and dozens of others—on the bureau’s American Community Survey. The survey’s annually updated data help guide the distribution of more than $416 billion in federal funds. Its data provide demographic, social, economic and housing estimates that are widely used by state and local officials, businesses, researchers and advocacy organizations. It is the only source of local and neighborhood-level data on these topics.

But some Americans who receive the survey are so angry about these questions and others that they complain to members of Congress.They say that they will refuse to answer, even though response is mandatory. They believe some questions are too nosy, or that the bureau should not collect more than basic data, or both. Some call their local TV station to ask whether the survey is a scam.

Bureau officials counter that federal law protects the privacy of individual responses, and have posted a guide to why specific questions are asked. The agency and its supporters in Congress note that every question on the survey is required by a federal law, regulation or program and the courts have upheld the government’s right to ask these questions.

The Census Bureau’s audit of the American Community Survey, called “content review,” begins with the four topic areas and eventually will cover all questions on the survey. It is a different exercise from the agency’s review and rewording of health-insurance questions on the Current Population Survey, which drew controversy last week.

Speaking this month at a webinar for data users, Census Bureau official Gary Chappell said the agency receives “a lot of feedback”—up to a hundred letters a year—on some topics. The American Community Survey’s predecessor, the decennial census long form, also was the object of protests, which were concentrated in the months when the census was being taken. Bureau officials say the protests make it harder for the bureau to collect information, and may weaken data quality if respondents leave items blank.

Here is a look at four of the questions under review, with an explanation of how the data are used. The most frequent complaints are that the questions are unwarranted intrusions on personal privacy, that they are overly burdensome or that the government already collects the information elsewhere, such as through the Internal Revenue Service.

  1. Does this house, apartment or mobile home have a flush toilet?

The Census Bureau's American Community Survey question asking about indoor plumbingHow it’s used: Plumbing data are used by federal agencies to allocate federal housing subsidies, identify poor-quality housing and identify candidates for home repair or other assistance. The data also help public health officials identify areas with potential ground water contamination or waterborne diseases. The plumbing questions were first asked on the 1940 Census. Chappell acknowledged that the plumbing questions may have been more useful in earlier eras, when more homes lacked basic sanitation facilities. However, these estimates may still be important in some rural areas and on American Indian lands.

  1. What time did [each person in the household] usually leave home to go to work last week?

Commuting question on Census Bureau's American Community surveyHow it’s used: Commuting data in general are used to plan road and public-transit improvements, and to design energy-conservation programs. Knowing when people leave for work can be used to plan programs to reduce traffic problems during peak hours. The aggregated numbers are widely used not only by the federal government, but also by local and regional planning agencies. Data about commuting (“journey to work,” in census parlance) has been collected for more than five decades.

  1. What was [each person in the household’s] total income during the past 12 months?

Census Bureau American Community Survey question on wagesHow it’s used: Income data are used by federal programs to allocate funds for health care, food or other assistance to low-income areas or populations, and to target communities for economic improvement programs. The survey’s income estimates are widely used by governments, researchers and others. Privacy restrictions prevent the bureau from matching IRS data with census data. (The Canadian census first offered respondents the option in 2006 to grant permission to use their tax records as the source of their income data; 82% said yes.)

  1. Because of a physical, mental or emotional condition, does [each] person have serious difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions?

Census Bureau American Community Survey question on whether an individual is impairedHow it’s used: The question is among six asking about specific types of disabilities, based on standards from the Institute of Medicine. The answers are used by various federal programs to assess the need for services for the disabled, such as transportation, employment and health care. The current questions have been asked on the American Community Survey since 2008, though in the modern era other questions on disability have been asked since 1970.

The bureau’s rethinking of its questions is part of an extensive examination of the survey’s methods and management that began in 2010, five years after it began publishing national estimates. Last year, the bureau announced that it had appointed a new “respondent advocate,” whose job is to “help make the Census Bureau more aware and more sensitive to the concerns of our household respondents.” The agency also is researching ways to reduce aggressive attempts to reach respondents who do not answer the survey, which have been another source of complaints.

The “content review” project is coordinated with the Office of Management and Budget, which must approve questions asked on federal surveys. Census officials plan to survey federal agencies, survey respondents and data users about whether the usefulness and quality of the data obtained from the questions outweighs the difficulty of collecting good information.

Federal officials plan to announce decisions late this year on whether to keep, drop or suggest modifications in the four topic areas. Any changes to the American Community Survey would be implemented by 2016.

Note: This post originally stated that Census data help guide the distribution of $416 million in federal funds. It is $416 billion.

Topics: U.S. Census

  1. Photo of D’Vera Cohn

    is a senior writer/editor focusing on immigration and demographics at Pew Research Center.


  1. Anonymous1 year ago

    I will not comply with this survey. Almost all the information being required can be found in my tax returns, which were filed honestly and without embellishment. I don’t believe for a second that information is not shared amongst federal agencies.
    And, as a point of historical significance, consider that the US government enacted the Second War Powers Act in 1942 and used that law to access Census data to pinpoint and locate Japanese-Americans to round them up for internment. For years, this was denied by the government and only recently the truth has come out. See this article in Scientific American: scientificamerican.com/article/c…
    Think it can’t happen again? I certainly do, given today’s events and the current election mood.

  2. Anonymous1 year ago

    I have been receiving mail, phone calls sometimes three or four a day, and now I have had three home visits. One I wasn’t home, the second my sister answered the door just before we were headed out the door at 4pm on a Sunday and today Tuesday the same person showed up at 4:30. On Sunday I called the police took pictures and today I did the same. This harassment has been going on for months. I am frightened to go outside or let my grand kids play outside. The police did nothing but take information on Sunday but today the policeman was more efficient. I also contacted my local congressman. They provided a number in Delaware of a census person to call. The policeman took it upon himself to call this number. He gave me his phone and both of us spoke to this person. I should know in a couple of days if all this nonsense stops. I refuse to answer these questions and they have no right asking. I’m standing my ground.


    1. Anonymous1 year ago

      Nancy, I feel your pain-I am a single female, have no roomies and rarely stay at my home due to full time caregiving an elderly parent. Iam meticulous about leaving lighting on and adjusting blinds to make it appear that someone is present at my empty house.
      A few months ago I received the mailed survey. The questions are very disturbing In fact I was appalled at how invasive they are. It was “probably a big fraud” I thought. I called a trusted family member who suggested I ignore it. I did but a short time later I received a reminder letter, then a 2nd census survey arrived. I held my nose and filled it out because of intimidating wording such as ” mandatory” and in “violation of the law,” set it aside, but didn’t send in. I actually forgot about it. Then they sent out someone to my house!!! ( her area code is no where near this county,,must be nice,,,adds to Gub’mnt travel expenses.?) who plastered the note on my door, which is a signal to any passersby that no one is home. Furious, I removed the note, dug out the survey and sent it in.
      They still aren’t leaving me alone even tho I finally called the rep back, left a message, explained my situation and that the survey was indeed sent a few weeks ago. I’ve had 3 more calls AND ANOTHER VISIBLE NOTE STUCK TO THE MIDDLE OF MY FRONT DOOR TODAY, along with a ph msg. Apparently I’m on her list,,,,betting she doesn’t get paid without my now needed “verbal responses,” just guessing at that. After reading all these comments, I’m done! They aren’t getting two survey responses out of me. I’ll take my chances about being arrested and not going to fret about it.

      PS. Note to US census representative- If my story sounds familiar IVE SENT THE SURVEY ALREADY!!! Understand, you aren’t welcome on my property I will contact police if you leave another note on my door.

  3. JOhn Q. Pubic2 years ago

    My response has been, the 4th Amendment prtects the privacy of my papers, this stuff is in my papers…so aloha…ALSO if it is so secret how do “businesses” use the information provided to the Census in ‘confidence’….they SELL IT

  4. w w2 years ago

    A rep has visited us twice & left her card. I googled all the other census phone #’s & put them in an AutoReject/Silent ringtone group on my cellphone. I researched everything I can find about rep & sent her letters telling her what I know and for her to do the same (Public records, FamilySearch, voting, socials). For an information gathering organization, Census sure plays stupid on how to hack. If my grocery store can figure out my cycle to send coupons, census already knows. They just want verbal or signature surrender of privacy (Bill Of Rights, 4th & 5th Amendments).
    Yes – KEEP PUSHING BACK against these Liars!!

  5. Lori2 years ago

    “We will visit you each month for 4 months this year and again for 4 months a year from now” Wow.
    Last year I was so harassed by the CB to answer the ACS it was nerve racking and downright frightening. The phone calls and the visits would not stop. Then the supervisor started calling me nonstop. Then the voice mails from CB saying to call back and respond with a case # they assigned for me?? omg I was terrified. Thankfully I was not alone. Three of my unfortunate neighbors were experiencing this at the same time I was. This field worker went INSIDE one of my neighbors house UNIVITED.!!!. One of his family members is mentally retarded and was tricked as to letting him in the house. My neighbor was in the shower at the time. When he was done in the bathroom my neighbor found him sitting at his kitchen table with his laptop!! No lie. The police were called and he never showed up in our neighborhood again…..until this week which marks 1 year later…this guy had the audacity to show up in our neighborhood again. I was not home at the time but was told it was not pretty and got real ugly.
    After hearing the news, my fears and anxiety started up again as I see the all so familiar note on my door for the Current Population Survey. Not happening. They say that they pick houses at random and I call BS. The same 3 neighbors are experiencing the same thing all over again.
    I went to the police before the phone calls started happening again and was told to call my congressman, and to follow up if he refuses to leave my property. It has only been 2 days later and I have received 3 phone calls. enough is enough.
    My mother was a victim of fraud / Identity theft and this is not happening to me. My family has been through enough.

  6. Alice2 years ago

    I would be happy to provide the government with any information at all if I could do so anonymously. The vast majority of surveys conducted are coded to ensure the privacy of respondents. Why can’t the government offer the same courtesy for this survey? I suspect the quality of the data might actually be better if people did not feel that their personal information was at risk of being compromised. The accuracy of an anonymous survey could easily be validated by comparing parameters for the two types of survey in the same region. Just because the survey has been done the same way for 100 years is no reason to assume that is the best way.

  7. Angela2 years ago

    I have been chosen 2 years in a row to answer personal questions to census Bureau. I have been visited 4 times alresdy and I refuse to answer some questions. It is no one’s business when I )eave my house how much money I have how much my income is do I have Internet do I bundle my internet package how much do I pay for my mortgage and so on. I refuse to answer and their rep keeps dropping by to continually harass me. He even calls my cell phone. What can I do. I am so sick of this.

    1. Joe2 years ago

      We received the same harassment, including phone calls, emails, an electronic survey and the paper survey, culminating in two personal visits from a field agent and a follow up phone call – on my private cell phone! – from a “manager” to inquire about the agent’s professionalism. This is the second such survey in about 5 years, and I am *very* disturbed by this whole event. Something’s rotten in Denmark.

  8. Bill O2 years ago

    I just received my official 2015 ACS. I have no intention of replying to it. So, for the first time in my over 50 years on this planet, I will find myself in violation of U.S. Law and potentially subject to criminal charges.
    Most of the information that they are requiring that i provide is available from and could be, with reasonable effort, be complied by the Census Bureau from other state, federal and private subscription data bases. Additionally, a few of the questions are just none of their business and pertain mostly to information that is included in my Protected Health Information. One question asks how I may access the internet…Why do they want to know that?
    Importantly, their description of exactly how, and with whom, this data may be shared is vague, their is no reference made to how this data will be protected Further, given that the U.S. Government has a long history of misuse of the data that it collects. What is most important to me, is the painfully obvious fact: That the U.S. Government can not protect it’s own most valued national intelligence secrets, including the methods and sources that are used in the collection of that intelligence, from unauthorized access to, and dissemination by, its own employees, its contractors or their employees. Why in God’s name, should I entrust them with my data.
    Most recently, the U.S. Bureau of Personnel Management demonstrated that is was totally incapable of preventing, or even detecting, in any reasonable amount of time, a foreign governments illegal access to the most private, sensitive and protected by law, identifying information concerning an estimated 20 million of our current and former U.S. Government employees, and their families…Including the investigative data compiled on our current and former U.S. Government employees, its contractors and their employees, whom, do to the sensitive nature of their employment, are required to hold various levels of active security clearance, including our own FBI Director. It would be more than reasonable to assume, that the data concerning the nature of the employment of and the investigative data complied concerning persons, including myself, who at one time held any level of active security clearance…Again, why in God’s name, should I or any of us for that matter, trust that the Government of The United States of America possesses anything, but the most basic and totally inadequate ability to protect our Personally Identifying Information(PII) or our Protected Health Information(PHI) from anyone, including the prying eyes of any of its agencies or their employees, including its contractors and their employees and the various non-federal governmental agencies, their employees, contractors and their employees, that are routinely granted access to a massive number of U.S. Government Data Bases and Systems of Records(GOOGLE that last one if you don’t know know what a System of Records is).
    Any pro bono lawyers out there?…I might end up needing a good one. 😉

    1. Angela2 years ago

      I am facing the same problem and I will not answer. I am being called on my cell and the intake person comes to my home at night with his child in the car telling my husband I must answer. I thought we had freedoms in the USA. I am angry and feel we are not protected so I will not tell you who I have for my internet or if I bundle…when the census Bureau pays my bills they can have my info. And no you may not know what I have in my savings or how much my mortgage is. Enough is enough…people let’s unite or big brother will start putting surveillance cameras in our homes and cars.

  9. Richard A2 years ago

    The government cant protect anything, you will be safer placing this information on facebook than through this census information. throw it away and tell them that they could be in great danger by continuing to come to your home.

  10. Christopher2 years ago

    Unfortunately the US government has lost all credibility. As we have seen from the Edward Snowden disclosures, the National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency illegally monitor Americans. Frontline further disclosed on PBS that this illegal monitoring and data mining is then sometimes used by the Department of Justice to harass and prosecute political enemies and whistle-blowers who disclose the illegal behavior (while the bankers who crashed our economy are bailed-out and the neo-cons who lied about Iraq WMD get off scot-free). Americans now understand that the Department of Commerce, who oversees the Census, is simply extending the vast data mining. The Census information is shared with giant corporations such as Target or McDonalds so they can decide where to put their next store and bump out local and sustainable economies. Until Congress gets real about protecting privacy and holding the national security state accountable, Census workers will face resistance from suspicious ordinary Americans.

  11. Mary2 years ago

    The last census taken before 1992, can’t remember the year, I had to ask the census taker how to fill the census out because of an odd living situation… A few days later a total stranger, a large male, approached me on the street and told me all about myself! When I asked him how he knew all about me, he said his upstairs neighbor was a census taker and came home every night and “told (him) about all the interesting people she met.” Very alarmed and frightened, I complained to the local director of the census who was, to her credit, appalled. She had me call Denver headquarters, at my expense. They said, with a sarcastic tone, “well what do you want us to do, throw her in jail?” I told them I wanted them to find her and tell her to keep her dammed mouth shut or yes, I would demand she be arrested because she had violated Federal law and her oath, and endangered me. They said they couldn’t because she had already been “T’d,” meaning terminated, because she was only temporary. I asked them why they couldn’t locate her because as her employer they had her address, as well as having it because they are the Federal government to whom she pays taxes. They said they couldn’t track her because it would invade her privacy…. “HERS?… What about mine?!?” I asked. Their attitude was that if they stonewalled me long enough, I would go away… They have more time, money, attorneys, etc. and thought they could ignore me. I have not answered the census or those other govt. surveys since. And I tell a lot of people my story and encourage them to protect themselves against this violation of privacy, informing them of their constitutional rights. The last census, I was harassed three times in one week at my door, each time by different people, the third time by a married couple, which made me feel outnumbered… When I told them this story and why i would not ever again participate and closed the door in their face, I heard them laughing at me outside. Each time, I phoned the local census director and demanded they cease and desist, but they kept coming to my door in spite of promises, and wouldn’t stop banging. I have since found out that the local city police can, and will, remove them if I request it, regardless of them being census takers. I also need to find out, since the police would consider this low priority, if I can legally use my pepper spray on them. The census takers thought the violation of my constitutional rights and their legal oath was funny! Lesson: don’t do the census if you value your privacy and safety: once the government knows something, it is no longer a secret, and the workers do not take their oath seriously and will not be punished. All of this is aside from the fact that they have no right asking you anything but the number of household members. Since when does having a toilet become a valid topic? Who cares what kind of Hispanic you are, or your color, or when you leave for work, or if you do work? It sounds like things a burglar would love to know, and don’t forget that these people are not screened carefully before hire and they yak about you. You’re either American or not, and even that is not supposed to be part of the census. I was unofficially told by someone in the FBI that no, they would never really arrest me for refusing to do it. I will continue to tell people that the census people will dangerously violate your privacy if you let them. The same thing happened at the beginning of Nazi Germany, collecting information by any means necessary, just before the exterminations started. Know your constitutional right to privacy and private property. I will always feel violated by what happened, and the abusive attitude at headquarters in Denver. If you can, record every transaction with your smartphone. At this point I would no more open my door to these jerks than I would to the salesmen and bible thumpers who knock. It’s dangerous to open for strangers, I haven’t for several years, and in America you don’t have to answer the door or phone just because someone knocks or rings! Especially because not only was there no apology forthcoming, but they thought the fright they caused me was funny. After going online today and reading about the illegal snooping these guys do, pushing into houses when a minor answers, sticking their hands into federal mailboxes, leaving written threats, sneaking into back yards, peeking through windows… I will tell people about that, too. And Pew Research’s income depends on studying issues, so they are in cahoots, as well, like the fox guarding the henhouse.

  12. S. Varner2 years ago

    I think the federal government already has more than enough information regarding who lives where, and how much money each of us makes. The only services they are supposed to provide are roads, postal service, and protection from foreign attacks on America. I never have received government aid and never will. They can stay out of my business.

  13. Bert Lasgna2 years ago

    All these questions, other than number of household members live at the address is unconstitutional. The governments, in its overreach is doing nothing more than gathering data for its use.

  14. Sydney2 years ago

    My husband and I have been continually harassed by the Census Field Worker assigned to us. We have met with her on three occasions at our home, and against out better judgement, answered numerous invasive and ridiculous questions in the hope that she would go away. Now, she wants to meet with us again. She has come by our house, unannounced, twice over the last two days and left a note each time. The Census Bureau also sent an overnight Fedex letter to us yesterday advising us to cooperate. How did the Census evolve into such an invasive, and what I imagine to be, very expensive project? Also, why are these field workers allowed to harass people? I believe this is gross government overreach and an invasion of privacy.

  15. kathleen2 years ago

    i looked over the questions in this survey, and found many to be intrusive and not outwayd in use. such as1- do i have flush toilet. 2-how many bedrooms are in my home. Also some questions are actually dangerous, such as what time do i leave and return from work. – this can/will be compromised (as all computor data is) and give theives, criminals a schedual of when to target homes. Also so much information that is already on file with other agencies…ie..IRS…County property tax office,…Office of Vital Statistics,…SSA. All this continued spreading of sensitive informations just increases instances of identity/financial/personal theft & fraud. Decennial Census satisfies the law. this survey goes beyond as is intrusive.

  16. Billy2 years ago

    Received the survey in December 2014. After reading the questions I tore it up. The first week of January 2015 I received a reminder to send the completed survey in. The 2nd week of January I received another survey with a note reminding me the completion of the survey was required by law. Again, I ignored it. Today I received a call from Hagertown MD the women stated she was from the Census and wanted me to complete the survey over the phone. I told her the only information I woul give her was that 3 people over the age of 21 lived at the residence. She said well you need to answer the rest of the questions. I told her I was not answering and other questions. She said it was required by law and that I could be fined. I told her that I knew no one has been fined since the 1970’s. She said well let me ask just a couple questions. I told her to have a nice day and I hung up.

  17. Missy3 years ago

    They sent us this survey of incredibly intrusive questions months ago. We never responded. They started harassing us with calls, and now visits. I finally was home for one of the visits, and went out to respond–you can see the video at the link below.

    There is no way you can be forced to fill this out. I have contacted my representatives in congress, my local news, and my governor. To date they have never fined anyone for not filling one of these out, because the details of this thing come out widely to the public will spell the end of this survey.

  18. Linda White Jarrells3 years ago

    You page says nothing about the marital questions that may be changed. Where have you addressed that issue? It is much more sensitive than how much toilet paper I buy.

    1. D’Vera Cohn3 years ago

      Thanks for asking. The Census Bureau finished reviewing the survey questions and proposed dropping some questions on marriage and divorce. See our posting about that proposal:

      1. kathleen2 years ago

        those marriage/divorce questions are still in there as of 02-17-15. i will Not answer them.

  19. someone3 years ago

    This survey information is far to detailed to entrust to any government employee or data base.

  20. Hans Thorsen3 years ago

    Off topic a bit, but related. We recently found several U.S. Census “Urgent! Contact Us!” door tags on our door, and received a letter making it sound very urgent that we contact the man who left the door tags. We had been selected to participate in the Consumer Expenditure Survey. I called the field rep, and called his branch office, to express concern over the survey being – we thought – obligatory, with a fine hitting us if we refused to participate. We were told wonderful things about the survey, were told that it would be painless, etc., but we were NEVER told that this particular survey is VOLUNTARY. A fined alerted us to this information found on the Census Bureau’s own website. Prior to this, we had actually arranged a meeting with the field rep (who told us that we HAD to meet with him) but opted out after getting more information. Frankly, we have enough things to do as it is, let alone inform the government about how much we spend on toilet paper every week.

    The American Community Survey IS obligatory, yet the nature of questions on it is ridiculous and evasive. Why Congress won’t end the endless flood of surveys that come from the Census Bureau – or at least make them voluntary – is mind boggling. Happy to take the every ten year census, the others are an intrusion and seem wrong, especially due to the fact that the Federal Government selects SOME citizens for these surveys and threatens THEM with fines if they don’t comply. That is not an equal application of law and the duties of citizenship.

  21. Denise Dudley3 years ago

    I just received the census bureau survey a few days ago. I tried to fill it out. I got about 1/3 of the way through,and stopped. I became almost physically I’ll. The questions were intrusive,and invasive. I’m ex-military and retired from the US government. I can guarantee none of this personal info. will be kept private. Since I worked for the gov.,I ‘m sure they have the info they need! Most of the questions have nothing to do with a census count. The paperwork is in what the military would call “the circular file”. I an also tired of government intrusiveness. Hell,I even got irritated with having to allow a pharmacy tech to put all my driver licence information in a computer for zyrtec-d! I MEAN really??

  22. T. J.3 years ago

    I got one of these early this year. I did not fill it in or send it back. I did not answer my phone when “census bureau” showed up as the caller. Eventually I got a visit from a Census Bureau employee.

    Previously I had searched the Net to find out about this and I had printed out a page that laid out (in legal terms and with legal precedents) why I was not required to answer.

    I was outside when she came into my driveway and once she identified herself, I told her I had something for her. I went in and got the paper I had printed and handed it to her. She looked it over briefly and I told her I was not going to answer any questions.

    She was very polite and tried to get me to answer just several of the questions. I continued to refuse and we actually had a nice conversation about things other than the Census.

    She told me that there would be two other visits from someone other than herself and more phone calls but those would be from private numbers and not ones showing up as “Census Bureau”.

    Here’s the kicker…She told me that “I will have to list you as anti.” I nodded but never asked “anti, what?” I wish I would have, but I didn’t.

    Some unknown calls did follow but I have no way of knowing if they were from Census Bureau employees. No other Census Bureau employee stopped by in person (at least while I was home) and that was probably 5 months ago.

    1. BILL3 years ago


      1. kathleen2 years ago

        me too.

    2. wtwolfe2 years ago

      I am curious. Would you share what you found and what was on the paper you handed her please?

  23. Lynn S3 years ago

    So I received this survey last week along with a handwritten note from the agent on 3-4ing loose leaf paper, left at my front door with her business card. So I googled her and she has a FaceBook page…..entirely in Spanish. This is how my tax dollars are being spent? Are you kidding me?

    1. Andrea Brandon3 years ago

      I want to add the entire chain of events thus far:

      Nov 16, 2014
      I haven’t received mail at my residence in 15-20 years. It all goes to a PO box. Even my driver’s license and vehicle registration show the PO box address. I haven’t been to my residential mailbox, except when I moved here, and that was to insert a note to the postal carrier not to leave any mail and to return it to the sender.

      About 10 days ago I found an envelope at my front door with my address handwritten on it. Inside was a leaflet about the ACS and a handwritten note on steno pad paper, along with business card. “Please call me ……” It was the first I had heard of this survey. I ignored it.

      About 5-6 days later, another handwritten note from the same census taker left at my front door, this time it was written on 3-ring loose leaf paper. [My, my…..moving up in the world!] “Please call me.” I figured I’d better look into it. Her business card looked official.

      So I did my research and the ACS is legit. Fines up to $5,000 for non-compliance, though no one’s been prosecuted since 1970-1980, depending on which source you’re reading. I found the survey, read the questions……are you friggin’ kidding me? No way will I answer it.

      Called my cousin, an attorney. He said to ignore it and don’t answer the door. I NEVER answer the door.

      BTW – I was burglarized last year and it was very traumatic, so I’m extremely cautious about strangers in the neighborhood, etc. I keep a weapon right by my front door where he pried it open.

      Yesterday, a Saturday, another census taker left a handwritten note on a scrap of paper at my front door.

      I should mention that I have had a sign on my front door for months, ever since a bunch of solicitors started coming around. It reads, “Do not knock or ring the door bell unless you have an appointment.” Surprisingly, the census takers honored the sign…or I never heard them knock.

      This morning, Sunday, a voicemail message on my unlisted land line from the first census taker. So how the heck did they get it? I’ve blocked her number.

      I’ve done a lot of research on the ACS. My plan of action is to do nothing. If I don’t respond, they can’t prove I’ve been contacted. If a census taker confronts me face-to-face I will tell them they’re trespassing and then call 911.

      I feel like I’m being harassed and stalked. It is not a comfortable feeling. I’m walking on eggshells.

      Oh yes…..I googled the name of the first census taker and she has a FaceBook page…..entirely written in Spanish. Gosh, so nice to know my hard earned tax dollars are paying for a government worker whose main language is Spanish.

      1. linda3 years ago

        So what nationality are you? Remove the word Spanish and you will stop offending me!!!! So I am Irish, English and Norwegian. Would you be prejudiced against me if I used Norwegian on my Facebook page? What if I told you I spoke it fluently but I am the fourth generation born and raised in the USA. Your hatred gas turned me off from having any empathy for you! May God bless your heart in a way that will change it.

        1. Mr. Brown2 years ago

          English is the official language of the United States of America. If you are offended because someone found it distasteful that an employee representing an agency within the USA prefers to speak a Latin non USA language, you need to lighten up a little. Everyone just needs to chill out. I don’t dislike Mexicans, but I’m sure if I enforced Mexican laws on Mexicans in Mexico, it would be alarming to some locals to learn I’m actually an American who prefers to speak English.

  24. J. Hansen3 years ago

    I also object to the personal information required in filling out the American Community Survey! I absolutely have nothing to hide, but with the instances of identity theft and hackers gaining access to bank accounts and charge cards through what we think are big time companies safe with our financial information, it is very worrisome to complete a questionnaire such as this. I even felt uncomfortable accessing the website to complete the questionnaire wondering to myself if it was safe and if it was legitimate. When the questionnaire asks for your names, birthdates, have your address and then start wanting to know where you were born etc., that’s very intrusive and my privacy has been invaded!

    1. kathleen2 years ago


  25. Sincerely, Anonymous3 years ago

    To: The Census Bureau
    Subject: American Community Survey

    Opinion: I object.
    Reason: I feel that this is an invasion of my privacy.

    I say – you change how this survey is conducted.

    I personally don’t want to give my name, however, if the Census Bureau and the IRS were to work together, you could infact learn my name, address, DoB, the company that I work(ed) for and my annual income.
    Or anything else if you worked together.
    That said. I feel as tho I shouldn’t have to answer those questions.

    I say – put the survey out there, and ask all the same questions keeping in mind some things can remain
    anonymous or optional.

    Keep it anonymous

    I have nothing to hide. So, I will fill this out.
    I just want you to know, I’m not 100% happy about it.

    Take a survey and see how many people are willing to comply if you OMIT the names of the person(s) living in what ever dwelling they reside in etc.

    I bet your 1~2% of the people that don’t fill this out would be more obliged to do so – IF it were anonymous.
    I also would take a wager that… You would get your replies faster.
    The rest of the 98% would also feel more at ease answering the questions if you gave them options as well.

    Hey – put things in the survey like.

    “It is the law, however some Q&A’s are optional”

    Name (Optional)
    Age (Optional)
    Race (Optional)
    Single, Married, Divorced? (Optional)
    —> If they omit thier name – I bet you’ll see thier income in the proper box filled out.

    How many people hesitate when answering these
    How many people wonder why this is being sent to them?
    How many people wonder why THEIR address was slected?
    How many people oblige this survey because its the law?
    How many people would fill this out faster if you give an option?
    Like I said – you’d probably get 100% compliance if you just give an option.

    So give “We the people” of the free country some optional options and let them feel free to make a choice. After all freedom is what our country is based on. Right?
    Let them know – its a survey to help them locally, state wide, and country wide.

    Some people don’t get the whole “demographics” thing… Maybe they don’t care. Just give a choice.

    I understand – There you are, you are sitting at your desk. A federal worker in the Census Bureau.
    ONE PERSON. Well what can you do?
    You have a choice you know. You are an individual with an opinion too and you live in a free country. We all have them (opinions). Some people voice thier opinions. Some don’t. Some people are “get out there and do stuff people”. Some just sit and do nothing…
    You can throw this letter out, chuckle, agree, or disagree, (Its my opinion after all) shake your head, take a coffee break, and continue on with the daily grind.
    You can pass it on.
    You could show a co-worker.
    You can remain anonymous – and leave this letter on your bosses desk.
    Are you the boss? Send it up the ladder…
    Discuss this letter.

    I am only one voice (composer of letter), one person, sitting at a laptop typing out what many US Citizens are thinking when they get this in the mail.
    I will omit my name, my age, my address, my income, as well as my email address.
    (In this letter, but, not the survey).
    It doesn’t bug me that I don’t know your name, your address, wage or age.
    You are a US Citizen that is a US Federal Employee.
    You have choices, options, opinions, a job and bills to pay. JUST LIKE I DO.

    Give the US Citizens OPTIONS.
    The Census Bureau will get replies.

    My humble opinion.

  26. R Gallan3 years ago

    I too received a ACS and find it so utterly intrusive. It is totally amazing to me that our legislators find no problem with “forced” compliance to these questions. What bothers me most however, is that so many people totally miss the point. And that is, this is NOT about the importance or relevance of the data collected, but rather about the LOSS of your freedom and the right to privacy. Please understand that when a government demands your response to private matters you LOSE. Resist this Nazi tactic at all cost!

    1. Ann3 years ago

      Amen. I refuse to give them Any information that is too personal. I have No faith in anyone working with the government to keep anything confidential. Even if they sent this to All U S citizens, I still would not respond.

      I feel this is against my constitutional rights to enforce this and my privacy is under attack. Stand strong, my friends. My ancestors came over on the Mayflower and they fought against injustices such as this.

      Just more government tyranny at work.

  27. Sheri3 years ago

    I do not believe a WORD of what the Census Bureau is telling me about the confidentiality of my responses. Why would I believe them? Is ANYTHING our government says today trustworthy? Why would I believe that the NSA doesn’t reach right into this database? WHY? Reassurances from low-level Census workers hardly convince me. I am being harassed almost daily now by them and have ignored them after writing them a letter informing them that I would NOT comply. I will NOT answer their questions as long as this survey is not conducted anonymously. After numerous phone calls which I did not answer, they sent a worker to my house a few days ago who confronted me while I was gardening in my back yard. He asked, computer in hand, if I would reply anonymously. I laughed at him and said how could it be ANONYMOUS when he knew my name and was standing there with his computer in hand …was I supposed to reveal to HIM what I would not put on paper? Why should HE know what my responses might be? NO…I will NOT comply when this is done this way. They could send the questionnaires with a removable label and they could be returned showing ONLY zipcode. That is enough to identify the region. They could also leave the survey in Post Offices around the country to be completed voluntarily and anonymously. If they want my name and address, it IS for some nefarious reason and I will not hand them all this information on a silver platter. UPS has sent me an email notifying me that today I will receive an overnight package from the CENSUS BUREAU! Can you imagine wasting taxpayers money on UPS OVERNIGHT DELIVERY? Someone has to stand up to this nonsense. We give away our liberties and freedoms too willingly and too trustingly. I am too old and have seen too much in my life to trust anyone in government. I am NOT an anarchist YET…never have been and always thought government has a good role to play in our lives, but since we have learned of the sinister actions of the NSA I am totally turned around in my thinking. Let them fine me if they want…it’s better than responding under these circumstances. I’ll gladly answer questions with real value anonymously. Their thinly veiled excuse that they need my name and phone number to contact me if there are questions they have about my answers is totally laughable. They already had that information when they sent out the survey. I called them when I started filling it out and realized the outrageousness of the questions, to tell them I would NOT respond. They had the information on my identity embedded in the code number at the top of the survey. They know and USE more than they tell us. Be sure it is not some benign little survey. They are compiling a data base of the entire American population that can be HACKED, or commandeered by the NSA. Why would I willingly participate in that????? Cyber security is a great concern to the CIA and they know that our government databases are not truly secure from attack by hackers or worse, by terrorists. So even under BENIGN conditions the data is NOT safe and I will NEVER believe that everything is aggregated and that NO information from this survey is kept by name, or SS #, or address or by any other identifying information. If anyone believes this, I would be glad to sell them the Brooklyn Bridge! No matter how they harass me, I will NEVER answer this survey, and if they try to arrest me I will go to court and hopefully find someone skilled enough to represent me who can get this law either amended or repealed. An unjust law is an unjust law. It’s not something we have to live with forever.

  28. Xena Amphipolis3 years ago

    This survey is not Constitutional. The reason that no one has ever been fined or jailed for noncompliance is that the Census department knows that they would lose that lawsuit. Everyone needs to start practicing civil disobedience and refuse to comply truthful answers. Make up wild answers.

  29. Rob3 years ago

    The so called survey is intrusive and insulting. What time do you leave for work? (hour and minute) Who has stayed at your home? How much money do you make? Have you made any interest income? Do you have a mortgage? How much is the mortgage? Does anyone in the home have any disabilities? How much are your utilities?

    The census was meant to be a head count to figure out how many members to send to the house of representatives.That`s it.This American Community Survey should angry everyone.

    1. Puddleglum3 years ago

      It is not as though many question within the survey are so terribly objectionable in and of themselves. If it were presented for voluntary response, much of the repulsiveness might be alleviated. However, there are other questions that are objectionable and have been published on this site, heck, even before the U.S. Supreme Court. My observation is this: those who are for government handouts are supporters of this census intrusion. The intrusion for them is worth a possible payoff. And the $s mean more to them. But even entitlement personalities find this intrusive and I think it is because even unconsciously, Americans know that federal rule is wrong. Federal programs are not American and was never intended by our forefathers in fact prohibited. We know it doesn’t work and we know the questions mean that the feds are trying to impact our lives. Out of bounds!

    2. hmm3 years ago

      I agree, when you look at the information this “community survey” is collecting, it is far too detailed to entrust to any government agency. Assurances of anonymity from the Census Bureau are ridiculous nonsense compared to the detail they are asking for, especially when they mention they may combine it with answers you have provided to other agencies. The ONLY way they could do that would be to keep this information filed away with your identity.

  30. Alish3 years ago

    100 letters of complaint? Over 3.5 million respondents? I call that success. Toughen up, Census, toughen up.

    1. Hans Thorsen3 years ago

      Doesn’t mean that thousands of people haven’t complained. I called my congressman, didn’t send a letter to the Census Bureau. Also if the Bureau DID get thousands of complaints, you think it wouldn’t only say, “100”?

      1. James Lewis3 years ago

        As did I. Every one commenting here should do the same.

  31. Barbara3 years ago

    Only 100 negative comments per year per question. You are going to change because of that? This is important stuff and a few hundred people that have no idea what it is about is going to make you change. Give me a break.

    1. hmm3 years ago

      give me a break. One would think, with all of the info that has come out about over-reach of government data collection, US citizens would not be so simple minded to entrust data like this to anyone. One would also think, they would not be so simple minded as to lazily dismiss legitimate privacy concerns.

  32. Bob Moore Jr.3 years ago

    I both hope and assume that the Census now uses, at least some, of the meta data that say, the TSA and the NSA have at their disposal. Traffic questions can easily and statistically soundly come from various recipients of Federal dollars like State highways and law enforcement. As for plumbing , I suppose we can do long division on; pots sold and homes built, tear-downs and the like. Water districts can also supply this info. The Census has a thankless and meaningful task, and they do many things well…all the way down to the Census-block Group. Many of you probably do not talk to your neighbors…imagine trying to talk to all of them…for a living!

  33. GrumpyOne3 years ago

    The Census form needs to be simplified, unintrusive and take no longer than five minutes to fill out. IOW, just count people!

    1. Ann3 years ago

      Right on! That’s the way it Should be!

  34. Barry Westfall3 years ago

    why would anybody want to tell the truth about how much they earned if it is going to be used to allocate funds for health and medical programs. The more a region or city says it earns, the less they will receive in aid. Don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that one out!

  35. Larry Fries3 years ago

    The fear of law enforcement (local,state, and federal) will be a driving force until Congress acts! The questions part might be well served by a mailed in survey as part of the census.


    1. Johngee3 years ago

      From the FAQ’s on the ACS: “We may combine your answers with information you gave to other agencies to enhance the statistical uses of these data”

      What “other agencies” are being referred to? Why would any “other agency” be involved? I thought this was for the census bureau info only.

  36. Leslie3 years ago

    The Census (every 10 years) is very short and unobtrusive. The American Community Survey (annual for a much smaller number of households that change from year to year) asks some of the questions given as examples here.

    Besides giving the government a clearer picture of citizens’ actual situations in society (how well off or poorly they are), this information serves as a basis for sending money to states and local governments for schools, hospitals, roads, transportation – infrastructure and all sorts of new development and renewal.

    I would think Americans anywhere would welcome this opportunity to tell the government what is needed, rather than tell politicians what is wanted every four to six years.

    The latter seldom gets results that are needed or practical.

    1. Redbear3 years ago

      In past years I have had no reservations completing such surveys. Not recently though. Answers confidential?? Have heard that before. You fill it out and be truthful. It’s safe…

    2. Desert-Surfer3 years ago

      If you think it’s useful – Go Fill-Out a whole bunch of them. But don’t push this Unconstitutional garbage on me. It’s insulting and a disgrace that the Census Bureau even has the balls to ask law abiding citizens such personal stuff. My Message – Go Take a Hike and get some fresh air!!!!!

    3. someone3 years ago

      read all of the questions, thinking about how much you would want anyone to know ALL of this about you, as well as what they mean by combining it with answers YOU have given to other agencies.

  37. oldsalt3 years ago

    The Bureau of the Census needs to recognize that its former and current protestations of confidentiality, of all the data which it holds, now lie in tatters on the floor. In the main, this sad situation is not the result of any malfeasance by the Bureau, but rather because of rampant malfeasance by other arms of the federal government (and others) — in particular, the FBI, CIA, NSA, and various other spy or law-enforcement agencies. This malfeasance has occurred, and is occurring, during Administrations of both parties. As a sad result, no American of any political stripe — from the archconservative right to the progressive left — can have any confidence whatever that the statements of the Bureau of the Census about confidentiality can any longer be believed. If some government operative wants information from data collected by the Bureau, that entity is quite likely to get it, and probably without any intervention whatever from another branch of government such as the FISA Court (itself, simply a rubber-stamp star chamber affair, a complete travesty of justice). The Bureau itself might not even be asked. The individual no longer has any effective legal protection of privacy.

    1. Williams Katherine3 years ago

      I’ll believe any of your statements are correct, when you identify cases where they have had such confidentiality breached by other governmental agencies.

      1. Barbara3 years ago

        I totally agree with you!

      2. Mark3 years ago

        Hmm … methinks you doth protest too much, here and in your numerous other posts …

        Did a little bit of research (used search aggregator search words ‘census data’ & respectively ‘breach/hack/leak’) & found the following:

        Census admitted to erroneously posting on public website 100s of individuals’ PII (personal ID info)

        Census admitted, and was named by GAO (Government Accounting Office), as agency with most government laptops with PII lost (100s)

        GAO recently named Census as among those needing to significantly update security, as it was 1 of 7 agencies with 10,000s of collective data breaches of PII – as reported to U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (collectively made public with the GAO report)

        Census did indeed collect SSNs in a pilot program of 10,000s, and made an interagency agreement with Social Security to share SSN info.

        Wikileaks has uncovered internal/nonpublic government documents using census data (and there is an interesting portion of a US Special Forces counterinsurgency manual specifying how one might use census data)

        At least 1 group has hacked Census data – R00tw0rm and Inj3ct0r

        Numerous academic citations to at least 2 authors who have used census data to determine how easy it is to personally identify someone with very little publicized data – Sweeney & Dalenius

        Much government security is generally less robust than commercial – and as others have noted, there have been plenty of significant data breaches of both commercial & government data – why would Census be any better?

        And with the various releases of hacked government data shows, plenty of security apparat gets info from Census & others – much of which sharing/collecting is secret under national security cloak.

        Having represented various government agencies I would certainly remain skeptical of any press releases or reports made by the agencies themselves – that’s why we continue to have whistleblower protections: agencies (as well as many others) will lie & cover up – from something as simple as honest mistakes (just embarrassing) to the more venal (using agencies for private plunder or partisan advantage). As a colleague once remarked, he was surprized that I was surprized that government reps routinely lie when defending themselves.

  38. Mike3 years ago

    The Census is mandated by the Constitution. I don’t see any evidence that anyone has ever been asked about their religion in the Census. Information that is normally used is information about census tracts and cannot be associated with an individual. Some of the commenters seem to have quite a bit of paranoia.

    1. Johngee3 years ago

      Paranoia…….I don’t see why anyone would fear answering personal questions to a government agency since we all know they are here to help us. We all know that nobody anywhere would have access to the data if not authorized and that nobody anywhere would use the information for personal gain or for other criminal intent. All government employees are honest and none would ever abuse their power. All of our politicians are honest too. I feel so much safer nowadays and totally trust the government.

  39. Mike3 years ago

    Is there evidence that areas with historically higher response rates have benefited more from tax-subsidized development?

    1. Williams Katherine3 years ago

      Of course not – because they wouldn’t. The point isn’t that people who answer get subsidies.

      The point that, if a school is identified as having inadequate resources to accommodate the number of students who will be entering in the next five years – i.e. by identifying how many 0-5 year olds are living in the area – the ACS helps identify that. If too many people in that community refuse, it impedes the ability to track that information, and prepare the school and it’s budget for that situation.

  40. Janice Taylor3 years ago

    I want to know how the questions, “How many times have you been married?”, “When did you last get married”, “What were your last months gas, electricity bill?” “What were your last year’s water, sewer bill?” “Were you pregnant in the past 12 months?”, and information on your electronic devices and how you connect to the internet ANY of the government’s business.
    I read the questions to my mother, and she said it smacked of Nazi Germany in the 1930’s. Also, my City Council members said the party line that the survey helps in community planning is, and I quote, “B*llsh!t.”

    1. MLD3 years ago

      Your City Council members don’t know what they’re talking about. All kinds of state, county, and regional organizations and governments use information from the Census ACS to inform planning and future projections, as well as how they spend current money.

      The information is anonymized and aggregated; you don’t put your social security number on the ACS form. I don’t see how this can be compared to something totalitarian except through misunderstanding.

      1. Jewels3 years ago

        @Janice Taylor & MLD – The Nazi Germany reference isn’t far off. Hitler used census data to locate and target Jews in Europe. And Hitler is just one example. Indeed, census data has been used for abhorrent purposes here in the US too. General Sherman used census data in his scorched-earth march through Georgia. FDR used U.S. census data to help create the Japanese internment camps.

        And if you want to argue that these examples are too “historical” and couldn’t happen in this day in age, think again: In 2004, the Census Bureau gave info about Arab-Americans to the Department of Homeland Security. For what reason? They won’t tell us. But one thing is sure: This so-called “confidential” data is being shared with other government agencies, and for purposes beyond simple budget allocations.

        It’s hard to say that the horrors of the 19th and 20th centuries can be regarded as isolated incidents if all the government needs is a “proper” emergency as justification.

        1. Williams Katherine3 years ago

          Yeah, except for a few key facts you failed to mention.

          “The data, from the 2000 census, had already been made public on the agency’s Internet site and did not include any individual names or addresses, information the agency is prohibited from disclosing. Further, Homeland Security officials have said the data were requested simply to help them decide at which airports they needed to post Arabic language signs, not for law enforcement purposes.”

          They HAVE said why they used it, they did NOT give out personal/confidential information, only statistical data – which is their job – and they also said…

          “But the Census Bureau director acknowledged at the meeting that by tabulating and handing over the data to the Department of Homeland Security, even if doing so broke no laws , the agency had undermined public trust, potentially discouraging Arab-Americans or other minority groups from filling out future census forms.”

          This is not WWII. Your comparisons are not remotely equal.

      2. Johngee3 years ago

        Social Security numbers are required on the form so it is not anonymous. Mandated personal information given to a government agency can and will be misused and abused by some of those who gather or have access to the data or by anyone it is shared with. Enough data is already available through voluntary means and if someone does not want to reveal such details of their life then so be it. The census bureau needs to be abolished. Congress needs to cut the off the head of this ugly monster.

        1. Lew3 years ago

          Johngee, where on the form do they ask for a Social Security number?

          1. Johngee3 years ago

            My error…no SS # required on the ACS form.

        2. Williams Katherine3 years ago

          I’m curious – have you bothered to look at the forms are you are just assuming?

          I was a field rep for the ACS for about two years. I am perfectly aware of what information is on the form, and social security numbers are NOT collected on the forms, or in the computerized version used by reps doing personal interviews.

          Additionally, no one is required to answer any one question. During a personal interview in person or on the phone, or doing the paper survey, you are perfectly within your rights to refuse to answer any of the questions.

          It is very tricky if a person doesn’t even want to give their name or ages, but I even dealt with that circumstance in my job, by putting a set of John Smith names on the form, and noting on the form that the respondents chose not to provide any remotely identifying information.

          You clearly have not done your research on how the Census bureau works, or the invaluable information it provides, which is most definitely not available through other means – or do you know another means to get information on how far people commute to their jobs or how traffic and other issues can elongate the time it takes them?

          As a writer on fiscal/social issues, census data has been incredibly useful in my work. The statistical data they collect is available to the public as well as governmental agencies, and the perception of abuse is just that – a perception.

          So perhaps you should learn more about what the agency does, and how the information is used, before you suggest eliminating an incredibly useful agency, and thousands of jobs, in a economy that can hardly afford to learn more.

          1. Johngee3 years ago

            You are correct about no SS# , although Item 47 of the ACS does ask a lot of financial information that could be cross verified using social security data held in the data banks of the IRS. That particular item sounds an awful lot like the questions asked on the mandated federal income tax forms that do require social security numbers. Everyone knows the common link between most federal databases is a SS#.

            You also said ” no one is required to answer any one question”

            In the FAQ regarding answering the ACS it is noted that “Your response to this survey is required by law (Title 13, U.S. Code, Sections 141 and 193). Title 13, as changed by Title 18, imposes a penalty for not responding”

            Sounds pretty intimidating for “voluntary compliance”. I guess adding threats is the only way the Census Bureau can get compliance from the citizens.

          2. Jermiah3 years ago

            1000s of useless govt jobs= more money for roads, military, fire, police etc

          3. someone3 years ago

            It does NOT say you are within your rights not answering questions, you are bending the truth. It clearly says you must provide truthful answers.

          4. kathleen2 years ago

            You made your best point in your last sentence….it is about a job…gov. created…tax paid job that may be usefull, but does not outway the violation of personal privacy and right to feel secure in our persons, papers and effects….

        3. Mar3 years ago

          Genealogists use the census to find ancestors, and to gain clues about where to look. Please don’t ever considering abolishing the census. I would not have been able to find out about my family and my children’s family without the past censuses.

          1. John Went3 years ago

            Were you able to discover if they had flush toilets?

          2. R Tumenggung3 years ago

            The 1940 census asked about radio ownership.

        4. nancy3 years ago

          No SS are needed

      3. someone3 years ago

        if it is anonymous, how can they do this, as described in the brochure sent out for the survey: “we may combine your answers with information that you gave other agencies to enhance the statistical use of these data.”

    2. Williams Katherine3 years ago

      Ask the census for statistics on marriage longevity rates.

      Ask the census for how expensive utilities are in San Francisco compared to Boise.

      Ask the census how many babies were born last year.

      Ask the census how many people are using mobile devices, and have adequate access to high speed internet and mobile internet services, in their region? And this last set of questions has only been added in the last 3 years – in particular to help identify areas where adequate broadband coverage isn’t available.

      These are all statistics that governmental agencies, social services groups, policy makers and journalists use, to do their job. The ACS is part of how they get that information.

      If you want to know the purpose of the questions, ASK. The computer programs for doing personal ACS interviews, have Help pages on every question, explaining how that information is used and what benefit it hold for the census to collect it. Your city council member clearly knows nothing about how the information is used, and also should bother to ask before he speaks.

      1. Jill3 years ago

        What about the people that are sick. I have gone through a very traumatic event. I have not been home for awhile. I am suffering from PTSD and Anxiety. I arrived home from being gone for so long and about one hour later someone is knocking and I mean KNOCKING on my door so hard. I huddled in a corner filled with fear. When they left I opened the door and there was a card from ACS. It would be nice if they would realize that we are not all doing ok.

      2. someone3 years ago

        I could not care less about the “purpose” of the questions, rather the wisdom in giving anyone such detailed information about your self and family. If you think it is so harmless, why don’t you answer it ans post it somewhere online- with your name and address attached. Knowing how good companies and government agencies are about keeping data secure, how little accountability there is if they mismanage YOUR data, and how government agencies themselves may think it their job to hack into your information wherever it is, it is pretty simple minded to give data out because it serves a “purpose.”

      3. Ray Wilson2 years ago

        I will tell them the number of people living in my house and nothing more. I could really care less what the intend to use the information for. The government is not our master.

    3. Flo2 years ago

      Exactly how I felt when I earlier tried answering this Nazi propaganda survey. Had enough when it asked “How many times have you been Married,” and “What was the date you last got Married?” What do any suc question have to do with my community and roads, schools, etc.? The shredder was hungry, so I fed it!!