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Census Explorer Tool Available

November 19, 2021 | More News

Planning’s new Census explorer tool provides a user-friendly way to access the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS).

The ACS is a continuous nationwide program that provides communities with details on demographic, social, economic, and housing conditions in 1- and 5-year summaries. The Census Bureau’s website provides the same data, but users must know table codes and Census vocabulary and sift through hundreds of options to find the information they need. Our explorer tool arranges the data clearly, logically, and simply so that users can quickly and easily find answers to their research questions. 

Dozens of indicators cover topics such as population, household income, education, poverty, travel to work, occupations, and home values.


To access local data using our explorer, five selections are made.

  1. The first is the year...
  2. And data set (either the 5-year or 1-year).
  3. You then choose one or more geographic areas, such as Knox County, the metropolitan area, or census tracts, among many others.
  4. Next, select a topic from the list of Data Profiles (large tables that provide a broad overview) or the list of Groups (small tables that provide more detail).
  5. After making all of your selections, click "Confirm" and then "Get Your Data” to run the program.

If the topic you selected is available for the year, data set, and geography that you entered, a table will appear with your data!

If a table doesn't appear, try changing the data set to 5-year – that source comprises a much larger sample size, so more information is available.

Export Data / Learn More

At the top right corner of the table, there are options to export to a personal spreadsheet, show all data, and change years. There is also a button that opens a new window with an explanation of the ACS.

Deep Dive

Depending on the topic you selected, the table may have a "+" symbol at the end of some row headers. If this appears, click on the symbol or the "Show All Data" button to expand the rows and show more detailed information. If you select a geography option that generates several columns, you'll find a blue sliding bar at the top of the table to allow you to view them all.