Conducted once every ten years, the census is the most comprehensive source of demographic and economic information available. The census forms the basis for many of SANDAG’s databases, including the annual estimates and long-range forecasts. As the Regional Census Data Center for the San Diego region, SANDAG keeps a complete inventory of data released from the 1990, 2000, and 2010 Censuses. SANDAG also works with the U.S. Census Bureau, local agencies, and the public on all census-related issues in the region. 

2010 Census and American Community Survey 

Following Census 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau changed the way it conducts the census. Through Census 2000, a short form was used to count the entire U.S. population (including details regarding ethnicity, age, household composition, and housing information) and a long form collected detailed data regarding the social and economic characteristics of the nation’s communities. Collected from a sample of households (rather than the entire population), this survey included all the questions from the short form, as well as data such as marital status, income, and educational attainment. 

Beginning in 2010, the short form continues to be administered every ten years, while the American Community Survey (ACS) uses a series of monthly samples to produce annual updated information formerly captured on the long form. 

Accessing Data 

The primary source for this information is American FactFinder, the U.S. Census Bureau’s online tool. SANDAG compiles information from the decennial Census and ACS for local geographic areas such as jurisdictions, school districts, and community planning. Data for these areas can be found in Data Surfer. Another useful source for Census and ACS information includes historical data: the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) produced by the University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Population Center.

Census Transportation Planning Package (CTPP)
In this file, census data are aggregated to special transportation planning zones to provide demographic information and travel information about people at their place of work (rather than at their place of residence, which is how all other census data are reported). The CTPP includes journey-to-work data (including origin and destination information), means of transportation to work, travel times, and socio-economic characteristics of workers.

Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS)
The PUMS files consist of a sample of actual census records (stripped of name and address) that allows the user to produce special cross-tabulations of information not available in standard census data products. For example, the user can cross-tabulate variables, such as vehicle ownership by type of housing unit or household income by age and occupation of the householder. Due to the small sample size of PUMS files, the information is available only for areas of 100,000 or more. In San Diego, PUMS geographic areas are defined as 22 groups of subregional areas in the region, per the 2010 census.

Special Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Tabulation
The Special Equal Employment Opportunity file contains occupation data collected through the ACS and tabulated once every ten years. It highlights gender, race/ethnicity, education, age, industry, and earnings data. EEO data is available for the nation, states, metropolitan areas, counties, and places with populations of 100,000 or more. The files are grouped into three types: residence data, workplace data, and workflow data.


Census Academy

The Census Bureau has a free virtual hub for learning how to access and use their data. Census Academy Offers:

  • Data Gems – Short videos demonstrating tips and tricks for data users who are looking for an easy and quick way to enhance their knowledge of Census data.
  • How to Videos – Tutorials on how to access data, for example How to Access American Community Survey (ACS) Block Group Data

Subscribe to get weekly updates from the Census Academy.

Past Webinars and Training

This presentation was designed to teach the basics of how to use data.census.gov to access the most current and relevant demographic, socioeconomic, and housing statistics about your community from the American Community Survey (ACS). The following resources help you learn about the ACS and other Census Bureau programs, geographies, and datasets available.

Presentation: Introduction to the American Community Survey

Handout: Household Surveys

Handout: Measuring America

Handout: American Community Survey Data Tools

Handout: Selected Census Concepts 

This workshop taught businesses, local planners, and other data users how to research local workforce and employment trends. The course included training on navigating the Local Employment Dynamics (LED) website and exploring LED products, including QWI Explorer, LED Extraction Tool, and OnTheMap. These tools allow data users to analyze employment, hiring, job creation and destruction, earnings, and much more for workers by industry, as well as display employment and home locations of workers on a map. The workshop provided time series data pertinent to understanding the local labor market, planning, and managing within a competitive business environment.

Presentation: US Census Bureau Local Employment Dynamics Workshop 

This workshop covered the following three topics: The 2012 Economic Census - An Update and Important Changes for the San Diego Region: This portion of the presentation provided an overview of the Census Bureau's economic data for the San Diego region, focusing on the largest economic program Census conducts, the Economic Census. An update on which reports have already been released was provided, highlighting the critical industry, geographic, and other changes that have impacted data users. Attendees also learned about the Census Bureau's business.census.gov website, a valuable resource for businesses, chambers of commerce, and economic development staff. Using Census Bureau Demographic and Economic Data to Spur Economic Development: This section of the presentation provided a deep, detailed dive into the data from selected monthly, quarterly, annual, and periodic economic programs conducted by the US Census Bureau that economic planners and development staff could promote economic growth in their areas. Special attention will be given to those programs that provide data on businesses in the San Diego region (including the Economic Census). Using Census Bureau Data in a Business Plan: Introducing Census Business Builder: While this portion of the presentation also provided a detailed dive into key Census Bureau demographic and economic data, this focus was on information useful for entrepreneurs and small business owners in business plans and loan application. Local area data for the San Diego region was discussed that could help businesses better understand their customers and market as well as their competitors and industry. The Census Business Builder tool was featured to make it easy for users to access these key data.

Presentation: Economic Programs Overview

Presentation: Economic Development

Presentation: Census Business Builder Demonstration

California Data with County Comparisons

California Data for Cities & Census Designated Places


Data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau regarding demographic characteristics, home and work locations and journey to work travel flows are helpful for transportation policy and planning efforts. Special census products and data tabulations have been created in 1990, 2000, and 2006 for transportation: the Census Transportation Planning Products (CTPP) program.

Presentation: Introduction to IPUMS and NHGIS

Census Transportation Planning Products Training