American Community survey


The ACS is a nationwide survey conducted for the purpose of producing a socio-demographic description of the population. The survey is conducted on a continuous basis with reports being released annually.

Sources for the Data  |  Special Tabulations  |  Working with ACS Data
 
Coverage of Annual Product Releases 

Period Estimates
for time spans of
Population Size
Requirement
Time Span of
Most Current ACS
Earliest Release
was Span Ending
** 1 year  
65,000+ 2012 2006
** 3 years  
20,000+ 2010-2012 2007
** 5 years  
none
(has tract data)
2008-2012 2009

**Annual 1, 3 & 5 year Period Estimates   (Which to Choose?)

  • are based on a survey conducted over a stretch of time rather than on a point in time
  • with care can be compared to point-in-time data like Decennial Census data
  • when comparing a period estimate to another period estimate:
    only compare estimates with the same time span length and no overlapping years.

Periodic Special Tabulations from the ACS are listed below.

Sources For Data

Data Tables

  • Social Explorer (easiest to use, choose "Data & Tools" then reports.)
    Has the 1, 3 and 5 year annual datasets from 2006 forward.
    Tables are listed both with SE numbers and names and with AFF numbers and names.
    Includes only the Detailed Tables and not the profiles subject and quick tables.
  • Census Bureau
    • American Factfinder   (to help navigate AFF see AFF tips for ACS)
      Has all tables and all datasets starting with 2005 (2005 covers only household population.)
      AFF does not have block group data.
    • DataFerrett
      Has only the 5 year estimates dataset with all geographies, including block group.
      A download can have multiple tables or selected items from within a table.
    • ACS FTP site (expert users only)
      Complete data from all ACS 1 year estimates files .
  • New York City Planning (selected tables) by city, borough and Community District (2010 n/a)
     

Geographic Coverage

Spatial Data

  • The boundary files used by the ACS are those used with the Decennial Census.
  • Use the Tiger/Line Shape files choosing the most recent boundary files for ACS dates with a time span ending in 2010 or later and choosing the 2009 boundary files for ACS 2009 and earlier.
  • The exception to these rules is PUMA boundaries. The ACS 2010 uses 2000 PUMA boundaries.
     

Microdata

For a description of microdata refer to our Census Microdata Overview.

  • ACS PUMS site  individual responses in SAS and ASCII text format
  • IPUMS a web extraction interface

Special Tabulations

Special tabulations based on ACS data are done both for popular profiles and for specific topics.
These tabulations are all available on American FactFinder.

  • Selected Population Tables
    Produced once every 5 years staring the 2010 ACS 5-year estimates.
    Reports on 392 groups defined by race, tribal groups, Hispanic Origin, and ancestry (for definitions see Sources for Data on Ethnicity)
    Data threshold: at the geographic reporting level a total population of 7,000 with at least 50 persons in the selected group.
  • American Indian and Alaska Native Tables
    Produced once every 5 years staring the 2010 ACS 5-year estimates.
    Reports data for 950 population groups.
    Data threshold: at the nation level at least 100 group members and at the level of geographic reporting at least at 50 persons in the selected group.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Tabulation  (data by place of residence or work-place)
    Produced once every 5 years staring the 2010 ACS 5-year estimates.
    Tables showing the diversity of the labor force through tables based on sex, race, and Hispanic origin, cross-tabulated by citizenship, occupation, industry, age, educational attainment, earnings, and unemployment status. The geographic levels for reporting are: state, county, place, metropolitan area, and EEO county sets (groupings of counties that meet the threshold for reporting). Reporting thresholds are either 50,000 or 100,000.
    These tabulations are also available at the Census EEO page.
  • Disability Employment Tabulation
    Produced once every 3 years base starting with the 2010 ACS 3-year estimates.
    Reports on the disability status and diversity of the labor force and population 16.
    The geographic levels for reporting are: state, county, place, metropolitan area, and EEO county sets (groupings of counties that the threshold for reporting).
    Selected tables from the Disability Employment Tabulation are listed at the Census Disability page.

Working with ACS Data

  • ACS Home Page, useful for background information and documentation like:
  • ACS Aggregator (from the Univ. Michigan Population Studies Center)
    Use this to recalculate MOEs after either:
        combining geographies
    OR
        collapsing cells within a table.
    It returns the MOE at 3 confidence levels, the Standard Error, and Coefficient of Variation.
  • Other Tools for Doing Calculations or Comparisons with ACS Data