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American Community Survey 5-Year Data (2009-2020)

The American Community Survey (ACS) is an ongoing survey that provides data every year -- giving communities the current information they need to plan investments and services. The ACS covers a broad range of topics about social, economic, demographic, and housing characteristics of the U.S. population.

The 5-year estimates from the ACS are "period" estimates that represent data collected over a period of time. The primary advantage of using multiyear estimates is the increased statistical reliability of the data for less populated areas and small population subgroups.

The 5-year estimates are available for all geographies down to the block group level. See Supported Geography for details on each product’s published summary levels. In total, there are 87 different summary levels available with over 578,000 geographic areas. Unlike the 1-year estimates, geographies do not have to meet a particular population threshold in order to be published. Detail Tables, Subject Tables, Data Profiles, and Comparison Profiles include the following geographies: nation, all states (including DC and Puerto Rico), all metropolitan areas, all congressional districts (116th congress), all counties, all places, all tracts and block groups.

  • Detailed Tables contain the most detailed cross-tabulations, many of which are published down to block groups. The data are population counts. There are over 20,000 variables in this dataset.
  • Subject Tables provide an overview of the estimates available in a particular topic.  The data are presented as population counts and percentages.  There are over 18,000 variables in this dataset. 
  • Data Profiles contain broad social, economic, housing, and demographic information. The data are presented as population counts and percentages. There are over 1,000 variables in this dataset.
  • Comparison Profiles are similar to Data Profiles but also include comparisons with past-year data.  The current year data are compared with prior 5-Year data and include statistical significance testing.  There are over 1,000 variables in this dataset.

For more information about the data available in the ACS, please visit the Guidance for Data Users page.

Comparing American Community Survey Data

ACS has non-overlapping datasets that allow comparisons of current ACS data to past ACS data.  The 2016-2020 ACS 5-Year estimates can be compared with 2011-2015 ACS 5-Year estimates.  For information on comparability of the 2016-2020 ACS 5-Year estimates to the 2011-2015 estimates by topic, please visit the Comparing 2020 American Community Survey Data page.

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2020

American Community Survey 5-Year Data (2009-2020)

Variable Changes

Variables, and the values they represent, may change over time. Use this 2020 5YR API Changes document as a guide for which variables have changed from the prior year for 2020 ACS 5-Year Detailed Tables, Data Profiles and Subject Tables. See below for a description of each change type.

  • No Change - The variable has not changed from the prior year (most variables).
  • Updated - That variable has changed from the prior year and a matching variable for the current year has been found.
  • No Match - The variable has changed from the prior year and no matching or comparable variable has been found.

For table changes, check the ACS product changes webpage for source table changes.

Geography Note

The 2016-2020 ACS 5-year data products that report data related to Congressional Districts are based on the 116th Congress. The Census Bureau does not collect congressional district boundaries from the states during the congressional session that aligns with the decennial census (e.g., 117th). Additional explanation can be found in our geographic user note.

Annotation Variables

In September 2016, ACS released annotation variables that return character representations of each estimate. Many annotations return as null. However, if an annotation variable returns a value, it provides important information about the estimate or margin of error. For example, if an estimate variable (variable ending in “E”) returns “-888888888”, the annotation variable will return “(X)”. Looking at the Notes on ACS Estimates and Annotation Values, this means the estimate is not applicable or not available. For a complete list of return values and their annotations, see Notes on ACS Estimates and Annotation Values.

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