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Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs)

Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs) are statistical geographic areas defined for the dissemination of Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) data. They are also used for disseminating American Community Survey (ACS) and Puerto Rico Community Survey period estimates.1

2010 PUMAs:

  • Nest within states or equivalent entities
  • Contain at least 100,000 people
  • Cover the entirety of the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands2
  • Are built on census tracts and counties
  • Should be geographically contiguous


Details about the 2010 PUMAs

PUMA Delineation

The Census Bureau offered the State Data Centers (SDCs) in each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico the opportunity to delineate 2010 PUMAs within their state or equivalent entity using the Census Bureau's 2010 PUMA criteria and guidelines.  The Census Bureau also asked the SDCs to involve interested individuals and regional organizations, especially those that officially represented counties and cities with populations over 100,000 people, to ensure that the PUMAs meet the needs of a variety of data users. The SDCs for Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands did not delineate their 2010 PUMAs because their populations did not exceed 200,000 people, the minimum threshold to delineate more than one PUMA.

  • 2010 PUMA delineation program schedule
  • FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs):  Questions from State Data Centers and local partners about PUMAs, the MAF/TIGER Partnership Software (MTPS), partnership shapefiles, and contact information. [PDF]  [TXT]

Reference Information

  • 2010 Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMA) and Characteristics of Microdata  [PDF]  [TXT]
    PUMA tutorial with useful background information, definitions, challenges since 2000, and changes for 2010.
  • 2010 PUMA Names File [PDF] [TXT]
    This file contains the descriptive PUMA names for all of the 2010 PUMAs. The descriptive names for PUMAs were developed by the Census Bureau with the State Data Centers; the intent being to clearly and consistently identify the location and extent of each PUMA within a state or county, as well as the major places covered by each PUMA.
  • 2010 PUMA Reference Maps
  • 2010 PUMA Equivalency Files
    Geographic equivalency files show the relationship between the 2010 PUMAs and 2010 counties, governmental minor civil divisions (MCDs), places, and census tracts. These files are also referred to as “PUMS Equivalency Files”.
  • 2010 Census Tract to 2010 PUMA Relationship File
    The 2010 Census tract to 2010 PUMA relationship file identifies the census tracts that are contained within a PUMA. Census tracts are the building blocks of PUMA geography and completely nest within PUMA boundaries.
  • Place of Work (POW) and Migration (MIG) PUMAs [PDF] [TXT]
    The use of POWPUMAs and MIGPUMAs with the American Community Survey (ACS) Public Use Microdata (PUMS) is outlined in this document with links to Code Lists and PUMS Technical Documentation.
  • Geographic Correspondence between 2000 and 2010 PUMAs
    To compare 2000 and 2010 PUMAs, or to locate geographic entities found within PUMAs, see:
    • MABLE /Geocorr12:  The Missouri Census Data Center hosts a Geographic Correspondence Engine that enables users to create a crosswalk spreadsheet or .txt file comparing entities between 2000 and 2010 or within the same census year for individual states.
    • TIGERweb Decennial:  The Census Bureau’s web-based application enables users to visualize the TIGER (Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing database) data for PUMAs and all other census geography.
  • History of PUMAs [PDF] [TXT]
    Brief history of PUMAs from 1960 to 2000.

  • 2000 PUMA Criteria, Guidelines, Maps, and Data

  • Decennial Public Use Microdata Samples (PUMS)
    2000 and historical files that contain records for a sample of housing units with information on the characteristics of each unit and each person in it.

  • ACS Public Use Microdata Samples (PUMS)
    Annual files that contain records for a sample of housing units with information on the characteristics of each unit and each person in it.

  • 2010 Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs) for the 2010 Census and the American Community Survey presentation
    Presented at the State Data Centers June 2011 Steering Committee Meeting, Suitland, MD



1  PUMAs were initially adopted by the ACS because they were the only wall-to-wall geographic entities below the state level that met the minimum population threshold of 65,000 required to disseminate ACS 1-year period estimates.

2  American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Minor Outlying Islands are the only areas included in the decennial census that are not covered by PUMAs, because each area contains of less than the required 100,000 people.

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Geography | (301) 763-1128 |  Last Revised: March 24, 2015