Sometimes new mappers are tripped up by census data, because in order to make a map, you need to download two separate census files:
In this lesson, you will learn how to get these files from your choice of the following sources.
Either choice will provide you with census data well-tailored for GIS methods. We recommend using one of these sources for digital mapping, as opposed to downloading directly from The U.S. Census Bureau portal.
tenuredata, which looks at owner vs. renter-occupied units.
Geography tip: Census tracts are a popular aggregation unit, as they are more granular than county or state level data, but more available and statistically-reliable than block level data.
The steps in this tutorial series will work for any U.S. census data, such as age, race, income, etc. If you’re not sure which variables are available, you can use censusreporter.org to find out.
Example of the tenure data we will work with, uploaded to ArcGIS Online.
Visit your institution’s Social Explorer. Here is the link for Harvard’s Social Explorer.
If you have an account, log in. Otherwise, you’ll have to make one.
On the Social Explorer landing page, select
Tables from the left-hand menu.
Since the housing variable is not collected in the full count every ten years, we need to refer the more detailed surveys collected of sample populations on a rolling basis, called the American Community Survey (ACS). Select
American Community Surveys (5-Year Estimates).
Begin Report next to the 2015-2019 estimates.
Under Select a Geographic Type choose
140...Census Tract from the dropdown menu.
Under Select a State choose
Massachusetts from the dropdown menu.
Under Select one or more geographic areas and click ‘add’ select
All census tracts in Massachusetts.
Proceed to Tables.
Under Select one or more tables and click ‘add’ scroll down and select
Navigate to the
Data Download tab.
Under Download data by geography type select
Census Tract data (CSV) and the tabular statistical data will download to your computer.
Under Download programs to import and label data select
Data dictionary (text file) in order to interpret the dataset.
Close out of the report screen by clicking the
X in the upper-left corner next to Create Report.
Now from the main menu, select
Scroll down and select
U.S. Tract 1910-2019.
Under TRACT 2019 US SL140 Coast Clipped select the button that reads
Shapefile to download the GIS data you will need for mapping.
You are now ready to move on to the next skill, How to join data in QGIS.
Tenure and Mortgage Status.
Finalize your topics selection by choosing the
To specify we want to work with census tracts, select
Finalize your geographic levels selection by choosing the
To indicate our time frame of 2015-2019, select
Finalize your years selection by choosing the
Source Tables, check off the Tenure data table. This will add the census statistical table to our shopping cart.
Remember, we need both!
Checkout by selecting
Continue from the data cart in the upper-right hand corner of the screen.
Accept all of the download defaults.
You will need to create a free login in order to checkout. You can create one in a new tab if you don’t want to lose your data selection.
You are now ready to move on to the next skill, How to focus the data.