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Understanding and Using American Community Survey Data: What Users of Data for Rural Areas Need to Know

Suppose a state office on aging wants to gauge the potential need for a “healthy aging” initiative in rural communities. Or an entrepreneur in a small Midwestern town is interested in opening an auto parts business but needs to know more about local commuting patterns and how they have changed over time. Or a local government official wants information about the number of vacant housing units in a sparsely populated county.

Where would they go to find the necessary information?

The U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) is designed to answer these types of questions and meet the needs of policymakers, business leaders, planners, and others who need good data to make informed decisions. The ACS provides a detailed portrait of the social, economic, housing, and demographic characteristics of America’s communities—including the characteristics of people and households in rural areas.

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Page Last Revised - October 18, 2022
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