Census Data Resources: Make Maps, Reports and Data Extracts

Guide to (mostly online) resources for manipulating and extracting Census data.

It's Easy to Make Census Maps Online

Chapel Hill Area Population Density

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This map was created with ArcGIS Online. Interactive maps are easy to make and can be shared or embedded in websites. The Demographics and Lifestyle group provides ready-made datasets you can use to make easy interactive maps. See the ArcGIS Online documentation to get started.

Map From Social Explorer: 2010 Population Density by Census Tract

You can make a single map, side by side or swipe map of a variety of census demographic information for webpages and presentations in Social Explorer. Simple instructions for using Social Explorer map tools can be found here.

How to Cite These Resources

For more information see our guide:

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How to evaluate which tool to use

Social Explorer is the easiest tool to use but other tools may be more appropriate in certain circumstances.

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  • What year do you need?

American FactFinder has only the most recent years of its surveys; Social Explorer has all.

  • What geography do you need?

American FactFinder has all available geographies (except block groups for ACS data); block groups are available in Social Explorer and DataFerrett*

  • Which variable(s) do you need?

American FactFinder has all available variables; Social Explorer doesn’t have variables that involve some suppression.

  • Are the pre-fabricated tables sufficient or do you need to create your own?

Only DataFerrett* allows you to create your own.

  • Do you need to make a map without using GIS?

Social Explorer and American FactFinder both have this capability; American FactFinder is harder but has some variables (from current surveys!) that Social Explorer does not.

  • Do you need microdata?

Have to use public use microdata sample (PUMS) through DataFerrett* (only available geographies are public use microdata areas [PUMAs], super-PUMAs or higher levels of geography, e.g., states), or apply to use un-anonymized microdata through the Triangle Census Research Data Center* (which is a long-term process—six months or more).

  • What survey do you need?

American FactFinder has most of the (current) Bureau surveys; Social Explorer has all of the decennial population surveys, 1790 to present; DataFerrett* has the Current Population Survey and a few other more “rare” surveys (SIPP, SAIPE, et al.), plus non-Bureau data like the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data; the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation; and much more.


*If you need to use DataFerrett or the Triangle Census Research Data Center, or need to map something in American FactFinder, contact the Data Services Librarian.

  • Last Updated: Oct 28, 2016 2:46 PM
  • URL: http://guides.lib.unc.edu/census