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Report Number ACS-02
Bruce H. Webster Jr. and Alemayehu Bishaw
Component ID: #ti1309622703

Introduction

This report looks at data on income, earnings, and poverty based on the 2005 American Community Survey (ACS), which provides a measure of the country’s economic well-being. (See the text box “What Is the American Community Survey?”) This report uses the unique ability of the ACS to produce estimates of detailed socioeconomic characteristics for the United States, states, and lower levels of geography.1

The U.S. Census Bureau also reports income and poverty data based on the Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) to the Current Population Survey (CPS). Following the standard specified by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in Statistical Policy Directive 14, the Census Bureau computes official national poverty rates using the CPS ASEC and reports that data in the publication Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2005. In previous years, the CPS ASEC report included state data on income and poverty. This year, with the expansion of the ACS to approximately 3 million addresses in 2005 and the lower standard errors that result from that sample size and design, the Census Bureau is focusing on the annual state estimates of median household income and poverty from the ACS. The ACS also has the capability to produce annual income and poverty estimates for counties and places with populations of 65,000 or more.

Since 2005 was the first year that the ACS was fully implemented, this report will not make comparisons with previous years. Historical trend data on state median household income and poverty from the CPS ASEC are available on the Internet.

The Census Bureau also produces annual estimates of median household income and poverty for the states, as well as for counties and school districts, based on models using data from the CPS ASEC, the decennial census, administrative records, and personal income data published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The model-based estimates are more accurate than the CPS ASEC estimates, but are released later due to lags in the availability of administrative records. Estimates for 2003 are available on the Internet at <www.census.gov/programs-surveys/saipe.html>. Estimates for 2004 will be available in fall 2006.

This report has three main sections: household income, earnings of men and women, and poverty. The income and poverty estimates in this report are based solely on money income received (exclusive of certain money receipts such as capital gains) before payments are made for items such as personal income taxes, social security, union dues, and Medicare deductions. Money income does not include the value of noncash benefits such as food stamps; health benefits; subsidized housing; payments by employers for retirement programs, medical, and educational expenses; and goods produced and consumed on the farm.

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1 The text of this report discusses data for the United States, including the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Data for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, collected with the Puerto Rico Community Survey introduced in 2005, are shown in Tables 1, 4, 6, and 9 and Figures 2, 3, and 4.

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