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Census & Demographic Data

Use this guide to identify appropriate sources for population and census data.

Census and American Community Survey Comparison

What is the difference between the Census and the American Community Survey?

The Census also referred to as the Census of Population and Housing or the Decennial Census is conducted every ten years in the years ending in zero. Starting with the 2010 Census, a much smaller number of questions were asked of the US population. In the mid-2000s, the American Community Survey was established to collect detailed data on the US population. Detailed population data was collected as part of earlier Censuses (2000 and earlier).

Census American Community Survey
Conducted every 10 years. Conducted every month, every year
Counts every person living in the
50 states, District of Columbia,
and the five U.S. territories
Sent to a sample of addresses
(about 3.5 million) in the 50
states, District of Columbia, and
Puerto Rico
Asks a shorter set of questions,
such as age, sex, race, Hispanic
origin, and owner/renter status
Asks about topics not on the 2020
Census, such as education,
employment, internet access, and
Provides an official count of the
population, which determines
congressional representation.  
Also provides critical data that
lawmakers and many others use
to provide daily services, products,
and support for communities.
Provides current information to
communities every year.  It also
provides local and national
leaders with the information they
need for programs, economic
development, emergency
management, and understanding
local issues and conditions.