Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

ACS and Census Data for Research

Technology #6467

This technology provides a more user-friendly and accessible format for the American Community Survey (ACS), as well as several scripts for accessing data subsets in the ACS. The American Community Survey (ACS) is an ongoing survey that provides data every year – giving communities the current information they need to plan investments and services. Information from the survey generates data that help determine how more than $400 billion in federal and state funds are distributed each year. It is also used in several research projects throughout the country. However, accessing data can be confusing and time consuming, requiring users to download data one state at a time and requiring knowledge of the codes for particular tables. This tool makes the ACS more accessible and useful.

Ease of Data Access

This technology consists of several macros—data access programs—written in SAS to easily download blocks of data. Additionally, pre-processed data can be downloaded without requiring the user to apply macros themselves. This will make the ACS data much easier to access and use for researchers around the country. Finally, the technology allows corrections for geographical changes in districts over time, making modern data comparable to data from past years. This technology is similar to such proprietary technologies as Geolytics ACS Data Files and Social Explorer’s Products, however, this technology offers features unavailable in these products, and focuses on a particular set of survey data.


  • Survey research in academic and business settings.


  • Faster access and manipulation of data.
  • Corrects for geographical changes over time.