Using ACS 5-year estimates to examine social, economic, and housing characteristics BY Race/ethnicity for small city

Hi All,

I'm new to using census and ACS data and am hoping someone can help me navigate the data. I'm trying to find data for a small town (population ~21,000) on various social, economic, and housing characteristics by "Race."

Here is what I've done: I have found a few data tables by starting off with an advanced search in, selecting the Geography, then selecting Place and the specific city (Northfield city, MN). Next, I select the "Surveys", and specifically the ACS 5-year estimates Subject Tables. These brings me to 55 results, some of which answer a few of my questions, but not all (for example, home ownership BY race; graduation BY race, etc). I am wondering if I am going about this the best way, or if there is another method to obtain the data I need. It looks like I can't use microdata/PUMS and other sources because I am looking at a very small specific geographic region.

Any advice would be helpful! Thanks in advance! 

  • Hi JBenson--

    American Community Survey has about 1,200 discrete tables. It's a lot!
    For research pros who want to dig in, I usually advise obtaining the spreadsheet list (Excel format) of all the tables that are in the collection, with table ID numbers, and use that as a reference point for quickly finding the right table ID.
    For infrequent users of ACS, I instead advise : Start at the website -- it's much easier to search AND FIND what one is looking for.  (Sorry, stalwarts.)
    So, again, there are a lot of tables. 
    • There are tables of "Educational Attainment" by race groups A, B, C, D, etc.  Find that described here
    • There are tables of "Tenure" (that is, Home Ownership vs Renting status) by race groups A, B, C, D, etc.  Find that described here
    My personal opinion is that some ACS tables are hard to find because of obscure language use ("Tenure"?) or because of ACS's table naming and numbering conventions.  For any given topic that is to be crosstabbed by Race, the result is not 1 table -- but is 10 separately numbered tables. 
    • For example, "Educational Attainment" (universe: all people age 25+) is table B15002.
      For Northfield:
    • "Educational Attainment" of White Population is table C15002A.
      For Northfield:
    • "Educational Attainment" of Black Population is table C15002B.
      For Northfield:
    • etc. etc. just change the Race iteration letter in the table ID
    So... I hope that helps. Feel free to reach out directly by email if any of this seems muddled.
    Cheers -- and Happy New Year,
    Todd Graham
    Metropolitan Council Research 
  • Hi Todd, 

    I can't thank you enough for providing this invaluable information! I truly appreciate you taking the time. Best wishes for 2021, 



Reply Children
No Data