The American Community Survey (ACS) is administered by the Census Bureau and samples a small percentage of the population every year, providing communities the information they need to plan for public investments and services.

The ACS replaced the “long form” of the decennial census after the year 2000, and is one of the best sources of local data.

ACS data are primarily available through the Census Bureau’s Data Explorer resource.

Other methods to obtain ACS data are the publications called ACS Data Briefs and ACS Reports.

The Census Bureau also offers a data tool to extract raw ACS data, called DataFerrett.

Tips for Using Data Explorer

Start with the “Advanced Search” option of the Data Explorer, and click on “Topics.”  Demographic topics (except housing) are included under the “Populations and People” subheading. 

The site allows you to drill down to some of the most detailed topics and geographies, download data files, and create customized maps.

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Tips for Using ACS Tables

ACS tables include“Economic Characteristics” and “Social Characteristics” plus a variety of data on different topics.

  •  Data Profiles Selector

Data Profiles consist of four tables (Social, Economic, Housing, Demographic) to give a broad statistical view of a particular geography. 

The Census provides a Data Profiles geography selector for the most popular geographies: state, county and place.

  • Narrative Profiles

Narrative Profiles are automatically-generated reports for the geographic locale you select with much of the same information found in the Data Profiles, except it is a text-based report with plenty of colorful graphs and charts.

Use the map selector or the dropdown boxes to generate a Narrative Profile for your favorite place.  

The profiles include text, tables, and charts, and supply a wealth of basic data on:  population, employment, occupations, industries, income, poverty, education, geographic mobility, commuting patterns, disability, family types, immigration, language use, and housing.

  • Subject Tables

Subject Tables have both numbers and percentages for a particular geography.  Choose your Subject Table here!

Tables automatically rank your data by geographic area from the highest to the lowest rank, such as the high school completion table under “educational attainment” that ranks states on their proportion of high school-educated individuals.

  • Supplemental Tables

For statistics about people and households located in geographies with mid-sized populations, check out our the Supplemental Tables.

These simplified tables provide statistics at a lower population threshold, and are the only source of 1-year data for geographies with populations of 20,000 to 64,999.

Use the geography selector to get links to the tables on data.census.gov.

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