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What Public Use Microdata Sample Data Users Need to Know

The American Community Survey (ACS) is the new source for the information previously collected through the decennial census long form. This information includes topics such as income, employment status, housing costs, and housing conditions. Unlike the decennial census, ACS data are collected on a continuous basis. This presents a number of challenges and benefits for data users.

This handbook is primarily intended for users of the ACS who are looking for more information than is available in the profiles and tables produced by the Census Bureau. In this handbook, you will learn how the Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) files differ from the pretabulated products, how to access the data, and some ways to produce your own tables. Data users already familiar with the PUMS files available from the decennial censuses can learn how those files differ from the ACS PUMS.

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