Frequently Asked Questions

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What are the Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMAs) in the American Community Survey (ACS) Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) data?

Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs) are non-overlapping areas that partition each state into areas containing about 100,000 residents. PUMAs were developed to be the most detailed geographic area available in the Public Use Microdata Samples (PUMS). Because the State Data Centers (SDCs) and their partner organizations help define these areas for the Census Bureau, they should be meaningful to many data users.

PUMA boundaries are updated with each decennial census in cooperation with the SDCs. For more information, visit the Public Use Microdata Areas page. American Community Survey PUMS files first used the 2010 PUMA boundaries in the 2012 ACS data release.

PUMA Mapping Resources

  • Detailed maps of state PUMA boundaries are available on the Reference Maps page.
  • Information on the geographic concepts (i.e. counties, county subdivisions, places, and census tracts) located within each PUMA is available on our FTP site. First, select your state of interest, then pick the text file PUMEQ5-XX.TXT, where XX is your state's 2 letter abbreviation. For example, if you select Michigan as your state of interest, the corresponding text file is PUMEQ5-MI.TXT

PUMAs were first made available in the 2005 ACS 1-year PUMS files and have been included in every PUMS release since then. ACS PUMS files from 2000-2004 did not include the PUMA variable.


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