American Community Survey Data


This is demographic data: data files with no geometry--which must be linked/joined to Geometry files for Block Groups or Tracts

The only data currently available at the block level are the legislative redistricting files created every 10 years after the census.  They have limited information.


10/14/2020: Current directions

Microdata:  (beta version on 10/14/2020, which has some options disabled)

6/10/2020:  This site has changed; the directions below are not valid.  They are left in because the new process probably needs to get the same information from you.


This site can be slow and annoying.  Watch the directions, proceed carefully, and be patient.

Download the 2010 Census Summary File 1 as shapefiles which will be simpler to download, and to use, but has a less robust set of data.  It also does not teach you about joins, an important learning objective.

The ACS samples 3.5 million households every year, out of the 143 million households in the country.

This data has 5 year, 3 year, and 1 year estimates.  The 5 year estimates cover most of the country (there must apparently be about 5000 people in the tract for it to appear), while the others only cover the more populous regions.  Three year estimates require 20,000 people in the geographic area, while one year estimates require 65,000 people to get accurate statistical estimates.

Main options for the American Community Survey (seen in "Your Selections" at the upper left). 
Pick general  topics to add.   
Pick specific topics.

You can get 1, 3, or 5 years estimates.  The larger the time interval, the more complete the results.

Pick specific level you want.  Note the "ALL" selection at the top of the list, which is probably what you want.  

View a table by clicking on the Name, or checking the checkbox and then clicking the "View" button.

Suggested tables to look at  that might be most interesting (of course a very subjective assessment):

  • S1501 Educational Attainment
  • B08302 Time leaving home to go to work
  • B23006, Educational Attainment by Employment Status

View command shows you the data. 

The table view shows what fields are available (on the rows), and the tracts (in the columns).   This format does not resemble what you will receive with the download.

Pick the download icon at the top.

You want CSV, with the data and annotations in a single file. 
The option to include descriptive element names is handy but not required.

OK Downloads the data.

Modify CSV file from American Community survey so it will be a usable database.




To get all counties in the US, use the Name Tab.
Pick "county" on the Geography Filter Options, and then "All counties within US"

This is appropriate for a look at the entire country, which has about 3500 counties.  For some options, the smaller counties by population might have missing data because they do not get a valid statistical sample every year.

Last revised 7/1/2014