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Michigan State University

U.S. Census Statistics: Decennial Census & American Community Survey

Census statistics are a rich source of U.S. economic, social and demographic statistics, particularly for small areas and local communities.This is a basic guide to the major U.S censuses.

Handbooks for ACS Data Users

A Compass for Understanding and Using American Community Survey Data

A series of handbooks for different audiences providing guidance in understanding and using the American Community Survey.

Comparing Decennial Census & ACS Statistics and Using the ACS

Statistics from the Decennial Census and ACS

Decennial Census (also known as the Census of Population and Housing)

  • Conducted every 10 years beginning in 1790.
  • From the 20th century it provides demographic and socio-economic statistics for population areas down to the block and neighborhood level.

American Community Survey (ACS)

  • Replaces the long form (sample questionnaire) of the decennial census from 2010.
  • Collects statistics on detailed demographic and socio-economic characteristics.
  • Statistics are available for some geographic areas from the ACS beginnning in 2001.

See what statistics are available in each year with this list of items on the 1790-2010 Census of Population and Housing schedules (PDF)

****Block and block group data and 295 detailed tables from ACS 5 year estimates prior to the 2009-2013 estimates are not available on Factfinder. They must be downloaded from the ACS web site. (The ACS 2009-2013 5 year data are available on FactFinder at the block group level.)

  • Use the Summary File Tool (an Excel file with macro) to view the downloaded files as spreadsheets instead of text files.
  • MSU affiliates can access ACS block group data and the 295 detailed tables through Social Explorer.

Michigan Profiles

Michigan State University