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Understanding and Using American Community Survey Data: What State and Local Government Users Need to Know

A primary mission of state and local governments is to deliver efficient and effective services and enact policies that advance public safety and economic growth. For more than a decade, the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) has provided data to help governments meet the needs of their constituents. The ACS provides a dynamic picture of the population and housing attributes of states, counties, and municipalities, large and small.

This guide provides a brief overview of how state and local governments are using ACS data to develop general plans, to help implement and evaluate local initiatives, to attract and retain businesses, and for other applications. It also describes some important considerations when working with ACS data—especially estimates for small geographic areas.


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