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American Community Survey 2020 PUMS
-- ACS 2020 5-year Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS)
-- custom demographic-economic estimates modeling for PUMAs
-- annually updated; focus here on using data released March 31, 2022

April 2022 .. Public Use Microdata Samples (PUMS) are data files that contain a sample of individual respondent data from a statistical survey or census for a Public Use Microdata Area (PUMA). PUMAs, covering the U.S. wall-to-wall, have a minimum of 100,000 population to avoid the possibility of revealing confidential respondent data. See about PUMA vintages. This section is focused on the ACS 2016-20 5-year PUMS.

Patterns of Ability to Speak English
The graphic below shows patterns of the population by ability to speak English by PUMA in the southern California area. Inset legend shows color intervals of the population speaking English "Not Well" and "Not at all" as a percent of total population by PUMA. The custom estimates were developed using the ACS 2016-2020 5-year PUMS data.

The above graphic was developed in the following steps:
  • the California ACS 2020 5-year persons PUMS file was downloaded.
      .. from this FTP site .. the file and unzipped to a local folder.
  • the unzipped file (a SAS data file) was converted to a dBase structure.
  • the CA dBase PUMS person file was opened with the ProximityOne Microdata Analyst (MDA) software.
      .. MDA is a Windows-based crosstab software developed to process PUMS files.
      .. an important feature of MDA is that it generates dBase file ready to integrate into a shapefile.
        for use in GIS applications.
      .. MDA generates output/summary statistics in a grid .. see example
      .. in above graphic view, the estimated total population in PUMA 0600101 is 143,365
      .. each row corresponds to a PUMA; MDA run s all PUMAs in a state as a batch operation.
      .. each column corrresponds to a "query statement" as shown below.
  • in the same run, the MDA "query file" was opened with MDA.
      .. the query file sets the specification or the summary fields to be developed.
      .. *P generates the total population estimate.
      .. the second query statement estimates the number of persons where "ENG" in the data dictionary has value " ".
      .. the PUMS variable "ENG" is shown on page 33 in the data dictionary.
*P TotPop #Total Population
(ENG="1") *P ENGVwell #ENGVwell
(ENG="2") *P ENGWell #ENGWell
(ENG="3") *P ENGNwell #ENGNwell
(ENG="4") *P ENGNot #ENGNot
(HISP<>"01") .and. (ENG=" ") *P hENGNA #hENGNA
(HISP<>"01") .and. (ENG="1") *P hENGVwell #hENGVwell
(HISP<>"01") .and. (ENG="2") *P hENGWell #hENGWell
(HISP<>"01") .and. (ENG="3") *P hENGNwell #hENGNwell
(HISP<>"01") .and. (ENG="4") *P hENGNot #hENGNot
  • MDA processing is started and generates a summary file for all PUMAs in that state.
      .. summary column the query file sets the specification or the summary fields to be developed.

About ACS. Essential data to assess where we are, how things have changed and how things might change in the future down to the sub-neighborhood level. The American Community Survey (ACS) is a nationwide survey designed to provide annually updated demographic-economic data for national and sub-national geography. ACS provides a wide range of important data about people and housing for every community across the nation. The results are used by everyone from planners to retailers to homebuilders and issue stakeholders like you. ACS is a primary source of local data for most of the 40 topics it covers, such as income, education, occupation, language and housing.

PUMS Data are Estimated for PUMAs; Using VDA Web GIS
The following graphic illustrates how you can use VDA Web GIS to view Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs) contextually relative to topography or other geostatistical data. In this example the Find Address feature is used to zoom to downtown Los Angeles and show PUMA boundaries and codes. An arbitrary PUMA is clicked to show the demographic profile for that PUMA (crosshatched). This view illustrates using the VDA Table where each row corresponds to a PUMA. In this example, total population and median household income are displayed as selected columns; the table is sorted in descending order on median household income.

ACS 2020 Data Resources ... goto top
  • ACS 2020 Main
  • ACS 5-year estimates .. release date: March 17, 2022
    .. estimates for all areas down to block group level
  • ACS 5-year PUMS data.. focus of this section .. release date: March 31, 2022
    .. microdata data for custom estimates and individual modeling

This section is focused on ACS 2020 data access, integration and use. Updated periodically, this section provides illustrative applcations using these data. Register to receive updates.

ACS Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS)
Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) files are datasets that contain a sample of individual respondent data for statistical surveys. For ACS 2020, the files contain the full range of population and housing unit responses collected on individual ACS questionnaires, for a subsample of ACS housing units and group quarters persons.

PUMA Vintages
ACS 5-year PUMS files are released annually. The ACS 2020 5-year PUMS files use the 2010 vintage PUMAs. The 2010 PUMAs apply generally throughout the 2010s. The ACS 2016 PUMS files were the first to use all 2010 PUMAs for each year of the PUMS data. The ACS 2020 PUMS file (release date March 31, 2022) uses the 2010 vintage PUMAs. As will the ACS 2021 PUMS data (early 2023).

The 2020 vintage PUMAs (boundaries, codes, names) are expected to be completed in mid-2022. These geographies are expected to be included in TIGER line files released in 2023. The 2020 PUMAs will be used with the ACS 2022 PUMS files (released early 2024).

ACS 2020 5-Year PUMS Reference/Resources .. goto top
  • General Reference
  • ACS 2016-2020 5-Year PUMS File ReadMe
  • Access/Download via FTP

Developing/Using PUMS Estimates for PUMAs
PUMS based summary statistics (crosstabs) have to be developed by specialized software. ProximityOne has developed the MicroDataAnalyst to perfrom these operations. MicroDataAnlyst operates on a Windows computer to process a wide range of microdata files including the Census 2010 PUMS, ACS 1-year and 5-year annual PUMS and others. Alternatively, use ProximityOne services to have custom estimates developed. Call (888.364.7656) or e-mail us for more information.

Examining Language Spoken at Home; An Example
Languange Spoken At Home (LSAH) is one of many subject topics that could be examined. There is a hypothetical analysis where an objective is to view the spatial distribution by PUMA of the percent Hispanic population who speak language "not well" or "not at all".

The following graphic shows a thematic pattern map of economic prosperity (median hosuehold income) by neighborhood/census tract for the Orange County, CA (black boundary) area. It is one end point in the analysis.
  PUMAs are shown by red boundaries; in each PUMA:
    - PUMA upper label shows total population for that PUMA
    - PUMA lower label shows percent total population
      who are Hispanic and (do not speak English very well + do not speak English at all)
Click graphic for larger view; expand browser to full window for best quality view.
The larger view shows a profile for the PUMA located at the pointer in the map.

.. map view developed using ProximityOne CV XE GIS software
.. crosstabs/estimates developed using ProximityOne MicroDataAnalyst software

Tabular Profile for PUMA 0605917
The following table shows the same scope of data as displayed in the above graphic mini profile for this PUMA.

 Item Name Description Value
 STATEFP10 State FIPS Code 06
 PUMACE10 PUMA code (within state) 05917
 AFFGEOID10 Extended PUMA Code 7950000US0605917
 GEOID10 PUMA Geoid 0605917
 NAME10 PUMA Name Orange County (Central)--Santa Ana City (East)
 LSAD10 PUMA Type P0
 ALAND10 Area Land SqMt 34849365
 AWATER10 Area Water Sqmt 17402
 PUMA PUMA Geoid 0605917
 RECS PUMA records 8083
 TOTPOP Total population 169,193
      Ability to Speak English (total population) 
 ENGNA     N/A (less than 5 years old/speaks only English)42945
 ENGVWELL     1 -- Very well 65,508
 ENGWELL     2 -- Well 25,391
 ENGNWELL     3 -- Not well24,274
 ENGNOT     4 -- Not at all 11,075
 HISP   Hispanic population (total) 138,675
      Ability to Speak English (Hispanic population) 
 HENGNA     N/A (less than 5 years old/speaks only English)22,305
 HENGVWELL     1 -- Very well60,805
 HENGWELL     2 -- Well 22,869
 HENGNWELL     3 -- Not well22,108
 HENGNOT     4 -- Not at all10,588
 PCTHNNA   %Hispanic Not well +Not at all 19.3
  GIS_AREA Total PUMA area 13.45 mi2
  GIS_LENGTH Total PUMA perimiter 17.56 mi

The query used to compute the items is shown below. There is one "instruction line" for each item computed. These lines are rows in a text file that is input to MicroDataAnalyst which computes and generates.
*P TotPop #Total Population
(ENG="1") *P ENGVwell #ENGVwell
(ENG="2") *P ENGWell #ENGWell
(ENG="3") *P ENGNwell #ENGNwell
(ENG="4") *P ENGNot #ENGNot
(HISP<>"01") .and. (ENG=" ") *P hENGNA #hENGNA
(HISP<>"01") .and. (ENG="1") *P hENGVwell #hENGVwell
(HISP<>"01") .and. (ENG="2") *P hENGWell #hENGWell
(HISP<>"01") .and. (ENG="3") *P hENGNwell #hENGNwell
(HISP<>"01") .and. (ENG="4") *P hENGNot #hENGNot

The resulting estimates data are then merged into the PUMA shapefile to develop the map view shown above.

Scope & Organization of Subject Matter
PUMS files enable the development of custom estimates/analyses for subject matter not published as summary statistics based on a sample of actual ACS responses. See the scope of subject matter in the ACS1519 5-year PUMS data dictionary.

The low level geography for which PUMS estimates can be developed is the Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMA). PUMAs, generally comprised of a set of continuous census tracts, have a population of 100,000 or more. The 2,378 PUMAs cover the U.S. wall-to-wall and are static geographic areas through the 2010s. Larger population counties are often comprised of many PUMAs. Los Angeles county has 69 PUMAs. PUMS files also enable microdata analysis not possible with summary statistic data.

Each record in the PUMS file represents a single person (person file) or a single housing unit (household file). In the person-level file, individuals are organized into households, making possible the study of people within the contexts of their families and other household members. 1-year PUMS files, such as 2019, contain data on approximately one percent of the U.S. population. 5-year PUMS files, covering a five-year period, such as 2015-2019, contain data on approximately five percent of the U.S. population.

Accessing PUMA Data Preplanned Data
ACS preplanned summary data are available for PUMAs much in the same ways as for states. Table universe: Hispanic or Latino Population 5 Years and Over Columns in this table Total: Speak only English Speak Spanish: Speak English "very well" Speak English "well" Speak English "not well" Speak English "not at all" Speak other language

Using ACS Data; ACS 1-Year versus ACS 5-Year Data .. top

While ACS 1-year estimates are suitable for time-series analyses, the ACS 5-year estimates are not the same as annual demographic-economic estimates and may not be suitable for annual time series analyses.

Advantages of using the 5-year estimates
  • the data are available for all census tracts and ZIP code areas.
  • the data are available for all cities/places, counties and school districts irrespective of size.
Disadvantages of using the 5-year estimates
  • the data are older than the 1-year estimates.
  • the data are for a 5-year period rather than one year.
  • additional cautions in comparing estimates over time (see below).

Advantages of using the 1-year estimates
  • the data are more recent than the 5-year estimates.
  • the data are generally more accurate than the 5-year estimates.
Disadvantages of using the 5-year estimates
  • the data are not available for census tracts and ZIP code areas.
  • the data are available for only areas of 65,000 population and over.
  • the margin of error (MOE) of the estimate is normally larger that for the 5-year estimates.

Additional cautions in comparing estimates over time
  • ACS 2012 5 year estimates are based on survey respondent data for the years 2008 through 2012.
  • ACS 2013 5 year estimates are based on survey respondent data for the years 2009 through 2013.
  • ACS 2014 5 year estimates are based on survey respondent data for the years 2010 through 2014.
  • ACS 2015 5 year estimates are based on survey respondent data for the years 2011 through 2015.
  • ACS 2016 5 year estimates are based on survey respondent data for the years 2012 through 2016.
  • ACS 2017 5 year estimates are based on survey respondent data for the years 2013 through 2017.
  • ACS 2018 5 year estimates are based on survey respondent data for the years 2014 through 2018.
  • The ACS 2012 5 year data & ACS 2013 5 year data
      are based on the same respondent data for the four years 2009 through 2012.
  • The ACS 2013 5 year estimates drop 2008 respondents and add 2013 respondents.
  • The ACS 2014 5 year estimates drop 2009 respondents and add 2014 respondents.
  • The ACS 2015 5 year estimates drop 2010 respondents and add 2015 respondents.
  • The ACS 2016 5 year estimates drop 2011 respondents and add 2016 respondents.
  • The ACS 2017 5 year estimates drop 2012 respondents and add 2017 respondents.
  • The ACS 2018 5 year estimates drop 2013 respondents and add 2018 respondents.
  • While 5-year estimates are independently developed annually,
      they include demographic-economic characteristics for some of the same respondents.

Other considerations
  • Are the needed subject matter available from Census 2010?
    - ACS more detailed demographic-economic data (like income) may not be a plus.
  • Census 2010 provides more accurate data than ACS estimates.
  • Often there are more detailed age (and other) breakouts for subject matter in Census 2010 compared to ACS.
  • The most recent ACS-sourced small area data are from ACS 2017 (December 2018) 5-year estimates;
    - ACS 2017 5-year estimates are centric to 2015.

Areas Published ... goto top
... this general description will be updated with specific ACS 2018 geography soon.
... availability of summary statistic data by type of geography
... link in left column provide access to related interactive tables for specific geographic level.
Geography 1-year estimates
65,000+ population
Supplemental Estimates
20,000+ population
5-year estimates
All Areas
numberpercent numberpercent number
United States1100%1100%1
States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico52100%52100%52
County or equivalent /183726%1,90859%3,220
County Subdivision /22241%1,1963%36,631
Subminor Civil Division (Puerto Rico Only) /3N/AN/AN/AN/A145
Census Tract /3N/AN/AN/AN/A74,001
Block Group /3N/AN/AN/AN/A220,333
Place (incorporated places and census designated places)6142%2,3028%29,576
Consolidated City /3N/AN/AN/AN/A8
Alaska Native Regional Corporation325%433%12
American Indian Area/Alaska Native Area/Hawaiian Home Land132%345%695
American Indian Area-Tribal Census Tract /3N/AN/AN/AN/A483
American Indian Area-Tribal Census Tract-Tribal Block Group /3N/AN/AN/AN/A917
Metropolitan Statistical/Micropolitan Statistical Area /451855%91697%945
Principal City of Metropolitan or Micropolitan Statistical Areas39932%78362%1,265
Metropolitan Division31100%31100%31
Combined Statistical Area17198%174100%174
Combined New England City and Town Area7100%7100%7
New England City and Town Area2562%3692%39
Principal Cities of New England City and Town Areas1932%4271%59
New England City and Town Area Division10100%10100%10
Urban Area43512%88125%3,592
Congressional Districts - 115th435100%435100%435
Delegate District - 115th (at Large, District of Columbia)1100%1100%1
Resident Commissioner District - 115th (at Large, Puerto Rico)1100%1100%1
State Legislative District /3, /5 (Upper)N/AN/AN/AN/A1,954
State Legislative District /3, /5 (Lower)N/AN/AN/AN/A4,825
Public Use Microdata Area2,378100%2,378100%2,378
5 digit ZIP Code Tabulation Area /3N/AN/AN/AN/A33,120
School District (Elementary)804%29915%1,995
School District (Secondary)9018%21442%509
School District (Unified)8728%3,00128%10,902

Notes ...
1 County equivalents include Alaska boroughs, municipalities, city and boroughs, and census areas;
    Louisiana parishes; Puerto Rico municipios; independent cities in Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, and Virginia.
2 For 1-year estimates, qualifying Minor Civil Divisions in 20 states only. For 5-year estimates, all county subdivisions.
3 1-year estimates are not produced for this geographic level, regardless of population size.
4 All metropolitan statistical areas receive ACS 1-year estimates.
    A population minimum of 50,000 is applied instead of the standard 65,000.
5 Legislative session year 2016.
* Counts based on geographic area boundaries as of January 1, 2017.
** ACS data are not available for census blocks.

ProximityOne User Group ... goto top
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Additional Information
ProximityOne develops geodemographic-economic data and analytical tools and helps organizations knit together and use diverse data in a decision-making and analytical framework. We develop custom demographic/economic estimates and projections, develop geographic and geocoded address files, and assist with impact and geospatial analyses. Wide-ranging organizations use our tools (software, data, methodologies) to analyze their own data integrated with other data. Follow ProximityOne on Twitter at Contact us (888-364-7656) with questions about data covered in this section or to discuss custom estimates, projections or analyses for your areas of interest.

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