As the federal government’s leading statistical agency, U.S. Census Bureau conducts a variety of census and survey programs aiming to provide quality data about people who reside in the U.S. and the territories. The two main data products that contain demographic and socio-economic information by geography are provided by Decennial Census and American Community Survey (ACS).
The Census Reporter, Geography Profile, and Narrative Profile icons on top of this page connect to the user-friendly interfaces for Fairfax County provided by U.S. Census Bureau. The links below direct to Decennial Census and ACS summaries compiled by Fairfax County Economic, Demographic, and Statistical Research. The table below provides the guidance on comparing Decennial Census with American Community Survey.
The census is conducted every ten years to provide an official count of the entire U.S. population creating small-area and county-level estimates. Point-in-time data as of April 1.
The ACS provides information about the social and economic needs of your community every year. The primary purpose of the ACS is to describe characteristics over a period of time, not to provide point-in-time counts.
Conducts every ten years, measures at a point-in-time.
Conducts every month, every year; Combines 12 or 60 months of data.
Sends to near 100% addresses nationwide and counts every person living in the 50 states, District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories.
Sends to a sample of addresses in the 50 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
Asks a shorter set of questions, such as age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, and owner/renter status.
Asks about topics not on the Decennial Census questionnaire, collects additional information on detailed population, household, and housing characteristics, such as education, employment, poverty status, health insurance coverage, income, language spoken, internet access, and transportation.
Provides an official count of the population, which determines congressional representation, realigns congressional districts, redistricts within each state, and distributes federal funds. Data are also used as critical information to provide daily services, products, and support for communities.
Provides current information to communities every year. It also provides local and national leaders with the broad range of information they need for programs, economic development, emergency management, and understanding local issues and conditions.