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Esri Reliability Symbols Improve ACS Reports

ACS, due to its smaller sample size (approximately 1-in-40 households) and frequent data collection, larger sampling errors may be introduced into their estimates. This is reported as the ACS Margin of Error (MOE), but understanding its impact can be difficult.

To help data users determine the quality of an estimate, Esri has simplified the interpretation of the MOE by adding color-coded symbols, based on Coefficient of Variation (CV)*, which indicates the reliability of data.

  • High Reliability: Small CVs, less than or equal to 12 percent, are flagged green to indicate that the sampling error is small relative to the estimate and the estimate is reasonably reliable.
  • Medium Reliability: Estimates with CVs between 12 and 40 are flagged yellow—use with caution.
  • Low Reliability: Large CVs, over 40 percent, are flagged red to indicate that the sampling error is large relative to the estimate. The estimate is considered very unreliable.

*The CV is a measure of relative error, calculated as the ratio of the standard error to the estimate itself.

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