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Census 2000 Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) Frequently Asked Questions

What data processing options are available?

Options available online from the Census website include the ASCII text data files (1% and 5% samples) and DataFerret (1% and 5% samples). The software enhanced DVD disc product can be used to create summary data tables.

What is a Public Use Microdata Area (PUMA)?

A Public Use Microdata Area (PUMA) is a decennial census area for which the Census Bureau provides specially selected extracts of raw data from a small sample of long-form census records that are screened to protect confidentiality. These extracts are referred to as "public use microdata sample (PUMS)" files. More information

Do I need to use Public Use Microdata Areas?

If you are interested in producing estimates for a state as a whole, you do not need to reference Public Use Microdata Areas. You will need to use Public Use Microdata Areas to produce estimates for counties and places.

Can I get data at the county and place levels from PUMS?

Summary data can be produced from the PUMS 1% file for counties and places with a minimum population of 400,000. Summary data can be produced from the PUMS 5% file for counties and places with a minimum population of 100,000. There are no county or place codes in the actual data files so the value of pums1 (Super-PUMA) or pums5 (PUMA) must be used. Maps and/or equivalency files can be used to determine which Super-PUMA(s) or PUMA(s) to use.

How do I use an equivalency file or map to match counties, places or other geography to Public Use Microdata Areas?

Let's view the New York PUMS 5% equivalency file as an example. What PUMAs make up Saratoga County? If you search the page (Click on Edit, then Find or Search from internet browser menu) for all occurances of "Saratoga County", you'll find that PUMAs 02201, 02202 make up the geographic equivalent of Saratoga County. This can be confirmed by looking at the fourth column of each occurance or by looking at the first PUMA record immediately above each occurance.

You can also use the PUMA maps (see below).

The maps are in PDF format. Click on Edit, then Find within Adobe Acrobat to search for all occurances of a specific area name in the document. This should allow you to search the entire document. If not, try downloading a local copy of the PDF file by right clicking on the PDF link and selecting "Save Target As" and then opening it in your desktop version of the Adobe reader.

Super-Public Use Microdata Area (Super-PUMA) Maps (1-percent sample): Description

Public Use Microdata Area (PUMA) Maps (5-percent sample): Description


Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Administrative and Customer Services Division | (301) 763-7710 |  Last Revised: July 16, 2013