Major American business groups joined forces on April 13 in support of the American Community Survey (ACS), the Census Bureau survey necessary to produce statistically representative samples for most every survey, opinion and marketing research study in the U.S.

The Marketing Research Association (MRA) helped to bring together 22 influential organizations to call for Congress to support the ACS, "a unique program that is  central to our ability, as business leaders, to promote economic development and growth and guide the prudent investment of resources in the communities we serve."

In letters to both the House and Senate, business organizations as diverse as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Internet Association, the National Association of Realtors, the National Association of Home Builders, the International Council of Shopping Centers, the National Restaurant Association and the National Automobile Dealers Association, joined MRA to declare:

"The ACS is part of the mandatory decennial census and is used to ensure the continued collection of reliable socioeconomic data that are the basis for critical decision-making in both the private and public sectors. Cutting funding for the ACS, or making response voluntary, would destroy the quality of data that decision-makers in the public and private sectors rely on every day to make vital choices about the allocation of resources, investments and the direction of policy."

The House of Representatives has voted twice in the last three years (in 2012 and 2014) to make response to the ACS voluntary instead of mandatory, and even gone so far as to eliminate it all together in 2012.

As the 22 organizations stated in their joint letter, "Making response to the ACS voluntary would diminish the quality of the vital data it yields. The  cost of maintaining sufficient standards of accuracy for ACS data if response were voluntary is  significant."

Mandatory response -- the simple notice on the ACS that response is required by law -- is the main driver behind the ACS' amazingly-high response rates (90+ percent).

Similar letters were sent by 20 local and regional chambers of commerce from across the country on April 13. Even Members of Congress have themselves weighed in, with 46 Representatives appealing on behalf of the ACS on March 24 to the House CJS Appropriations Subcommittee leadership.

The business organizations concluded in their letter that:

"We use the ACS data to make decisions on a daily basis concerning investment in new facilities, the availability of qualified workers and the need for job training programs, the characteristics (such as language preference, disability, veterans status and type of housing) of the communities we serve, and the need for new plants, stores and other places of business. Reliable information about population growth and density leads to the opening of new businesses in the best possible locations to serve the immediate needs of communities, helping create jobs."

The 22 business organizations signing the letter were the: American Planning Association; Appraisal Institute; CCIM Institute; Council for Community and Economic Research; Direct Marketing Association; Institute of Real Estate Management; International Council of Shopping Centers; Internet Association; Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University; Marketing Research Association; National Apartment Association; National Association for Business Economics; National Association of Home Builders; National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts®; National Association of REALTORS®; National Automobile Dealers Association; National Multifamily Housing Council; National Restaurant Association; National Retail Federation (NRF); Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA); and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.