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Census Information

Researching the Population - Recent

U.S. Census Bureau - American FactFinder

Use American FactFinder to search for data tables from:

  • American Community Survey
  • 2000 and 2010 Decennial Censuses
  • American Housing Survey
  • Annual Economic Surveys
  • Annual Surveys of Governments
  • Census of Governments
  • Economic Census ...and more

The American Community Survey is the Census Bureau's main source for detailed socioeconomic, population and housing statistics. Data is collected in 1-year and 5-year terms. Consult the chart below for a better understanding of which American Community Survey data will be best for your research. 

1-year estimates  1-year supplemental estimates 3-year estimates (Discontinued 2013) 5-year estimates

12 months of collected data

Example:
2015 ACS 1-year estimates

Date collected between:
January 1, 2015 and
December 31, 2015

12 months of collected data

Example:
2015 ACS 1-year supplemental estimates

Date collected between:
January 1, 2015 and
December 31, 2015

36 months of collected data

Example:
2011-2013 ACS 3-year estimates

Date collected between:
January 1, 2011 and
December 31, 2013

60 months of collected data

Example:
2011-2015 ACS 5-year estimates

Date collected between:
January 1, 2011 and
December 31, 2015

Data for areas with populations of 65,000+ Data for areas with populations of 20,000+ Data for areas with populations of 20,000+ Data for all areas
Smallest sample size Smallest sample size Larger sample size than 1-year Largest sample size
Less reliable than 3-year or 5-year Less reliable than 5-year More reliable than 1-year; less reliable than 5-year Most reliable
Most current data Most current data Less current than 1-year estimates; more current than 5-year Least current
Annually released:
2005-present
Annually released:
2014-present
Annually released:
2007-2013
Annually released:
2009-present
Best used when Best used when Best used when Best used when

Currency is more important than precision

Analyzing large populations

Currency is more important than precision

Analyzing smaller populations

Examining smaller geographies because the standard 1-year estimates are not available

More precise than 1-year, spans fewer years than 5-year

Analyzing smaller populations

Examining smaller geographies because the standard 1-year estimates are not available

Precision is more important than currency

Analyzing very small populations

Examining tracts and other smaller geographies because 1-year estimates are not available

Chart taken from American Community Survey (ACS): When to Use 1-year, 3-year, or 5-year Estimates | U. S. Census Bureau (Revised 2016)

Other Sources of Data & Statistics