Skip to Main Content

Statistics and Data

United States Census

Comparison of Decennial Census and the American Community Survey (ACS)


American Community Survey Decennial Census
Frequency Conducted every month, every year Conducted every ten years
Population Surveyed Sent to a sample of addresses (about 3.5 million) in the 50 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico Counts every person living in the 50 states, District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories
Topics Covered Asks about topics not on the 2020 Census, such as education, employment, internet access, and transportation Asks a shorter set of questions, such as age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, and owner/renter status
Purpose Provides current demographic estimates 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. 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.


Diagram of Census Small-Area Geography

2020 Census (United States)

Ask A Librarian