Skip To Content

American Community Survey

Esri provides demographics data from the American Community Survey (ACS) for the United States and Puerto Rico.

Esri's ACS data provides much of the information previously available through the decennial census. ACS uses a continuous measurement, or rolling, sample, in which a small percentage of the population is sampled every month. The ACS is updated and released more frequently than the decennial census—every year instead of every 10 years. Smaller sample sizes and variable collection times have introduced a margin of error into their estimates. ACS data categories provided by Esri include the following:

  • Population—Total population, language, and poverty
  • School and work—School enrollment, travel time, and means of transportation to work
  • Households—Total households, tenure, families, poverty status, rent, vehicles available, and mortgage status
  • Housing—Total housing units, number of units in structure, and year built
  • Health Insurance, public assistance income

See the Understanding margin of error section below for more information.

Vintage

2015–2019

Available geographies

See Available geographies.

Update frequency

Annually

Methodology

Esri uses the following methodology: 2015-2019 American Community Survey Esri Methodology Statement.

Sample reports

The following sample ACS reports are available:

For more information about reports and the products that contain them, visit ArcGIS Apps.

For information about the number of credits needed to run reports, see Credits by capability.

Variable lists

Data availability

Esri's ACS demographics data is available in various products including the following:

For information about purchasing Esri's ACS demographics data as a stand-alone dataset, contact datasales@esri.com.

Understanding margin of error

The Census 2000 sample, with data collected using the long form, represented approximately 1-in-6 households and one point in time, April 1, 2000. ACS represents approximately 1-in-40 households on a rolling sample basis, but the smaller sample sizes can produce larger sampling errors.

With each ACS estimate, the Census Bureau reports a margin of error (MOE), or measure of the variability of the estimate due to sampling error. The MOE enables data users to measure the range of uncertainty around each estimate. For example, if the ACS estimate is 100 and has a MOE of +/- 20, you can be 90 percent certain the value for the whole population falls between 80 and 120. The larger the MOE, the lower the accuracy of the estimate—and the less confidence one should have that the estimate is close to the true value.

Esri improves confidence in using ACS

Decisions about the quality of an estimate based on the MOE are difficult to make. Esri has simplified this process by adding symbols to flag reliability of data based on sample size. Symbols are based on thresholds of reliability that Esri has established using an estimate's coefficient of variation (CV).

High reliability green flag—Small CVs, less than or equal to 12 percent, are flagged green to indicate that the sampling error is small relative to the estimate, and the estimate is reasonably reliable.

Medium reliability yellow flag—Estimates with CVs between 12 and 40 are flagged yellow; use with caution.

Low reliability red flag—Large CVs, over 40 percent, are flagged red to indicate that the sampling error is large relative to the estimate. The estimate is considered unreliable.

The CV is a measure of relative error in the estimate, calculated as the ratio of the standard error to the estimate itself.

Read an in-depth explanation of margin of error from Esri's data team.

Understanding suppression

The ACS data is derived from a sample of housing units. Estimates are provided along with margins of error to assess estimate quality. Some values for medians and aggregates will be reported as missing by the Census Bureau due to their suppression rules. Averages are computed from aggregates. If an aggregate value is missing, averages cannot be determined. When this occurs, Esri displays the variable's value as N/A (not applicable). This not only applies to standard and nonstandard geographic areas, but also to any user-defined polygons such as rings and drive times when one or more component block groups include a missing value for a variable.