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On December 7, 2017, the U.S. Census Bureau released five‐year American Community Survey (ACS) estimates for the combined years of 2012 through 2016, making available social, economic, housing and demographic statistics for Nebraska’s counties. Also available are estimates for every community and legislative district in Nebraska and the nation.

The data are based on a rolling national sample survey mailed to about 3 million addresses each year, resulting in nearly 2 million final interviews each year from 2012 through 2016. By pooling several years of survey responses, the ACS can generate detailed statistical portraits of smaller geographies such as counties. The Census Bureau issues new sets of these five-year estimates every year, permitting users to track trends in even the smallest of areas over time. This is the seventh set of five-year estimates. Data also are available for the 2006-2010, 2007-2011, 2008-2012, 2009-2013, 2010-2014, and 2011-2015 periods.

The new 2012‐2016 ACS estimates are not related to the 2010 Census population counts that were released in 2011. The ACS complements the decennial count and provides estimates of population characteristics that are far more detailed than the basic demographic information that has been released from the 2010 Census.

The main function of the decennial census is to provide counts of people for the purpose of congressional apportionment and legislative redistricting. As a complete count of the population, the 2010 Census data are critical for knowing how many people live in the United States, where they live and their basic demographic information such as race, sex and Hispanic origin. The ACS estimates, on the other hand, are based on a sample survey of the nation and are intended to describe the social and economic characteristics of the U.S. population, not to provide population counts.

As a result, the ACS does not provide official counts of the population in between censuses. Instead, the Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program will continue to be the official source for annual population totals, by age, race, Hispanic origin, and sex.

For areas with populations of 65,000 or more (including the state of Nebraska; Douglas, Lancaster, and Sarpy Counties; and the cities of Lincoln and Omaha) the Census Bureau has produced 1‐year ACS estimates every year since 2005. These areas require only one year of survey responses to produce reliable estimates.

Because it is a survey based on a sample of the population rather than the entire population, the ACS produces estimates, not actual counts. Since it is based on a sample, the ACS also is subject to sampling error. To aid data users, the Census Bureau calculates and publishes a margin of error for every ACS estimate it produces. These margins of error are not included in the following tables.

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