Resources for Students

How to import and join 2005-09 American Community Survey (ACS) Census data to TIGER line files to view in ArcGIS 10.

Summary: The US Census no longer surveys long form data for its decade census. Detailed demographic data can now be found from the American Community Survey (ACS) . Data detailed at tract or block group level is compiled in five year averages. The most recent release of this data (as of 8/8/2011) was December 14, 2010 for 2005-09 . For quick visual analysis of ACS data, users may create maps on the American Fact Finder website

For use with Geographic Information Systems (GIS), users can download ACS data and join it to TIGER line files for detailed geospatial analysis. However, at this time the ACS data must be manipulated in order to create a unique join with the TIGER line files.

The ACS data are uniquely identified by logical record numbers (LOGRECNO). The TIGER line file data are uniquely identified by a concatenation of State + County + Tract (CTIDFP00). In order for a join to be made between the ACS tables and the TIGER geometry, the TIGER data must be appended with the LOGRECNO that uniquely corresponds to each CTIDFP00. Then a join can easily be made in ArcGIS.

This document details how to download TIGER and ACS data, manipulate the files and join them. It is assumed that the user is familiar with ESRI's ArcGIS 10, MS Excel and MS Access and the use of a file compression program to unzip compressed files such as WinZip.

How to print your maps

Adobe Acrobat Distiller allows you to print maps to a Acrobat PDF document. You can then take the PDF file and print it on any computer (such as your home computer!) or email the file. This is one way that you can create a color map in this class.

  1. Create your map in the program that you are working in.
  2. From the File menu, select Print.
  3. Pull down the Printer Name tab, and select Acrobat Distiller
  4. Format the rest of the printing as you wish.
  5. Click 'OK'. In a few moments you will be prompted to name the file.