ArcGIS Living Atlas

What’s New with Census ACS Living Atlas layers (December 2020)

Traditionally, accessing American Community Survey (ACS) data required processing the newest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau each year, taking days to weeks of time. Since 2018, many ACS tables are readily available within ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World to use within your GIS workflows. These Census ACS Living Atlas layers are updated automatically each year when the U.S. Census Bureau releases their annual estimates, and as of December 11, 2020, they now contain the newest 2015-2019 5year estimates.  

Access the newest ACS data, now! 

Quickly map more than 1,700 ACS attributes covering a wide range of demographic topics such as income, housing, age, race, education and more. Each layer already shows an interesting subject on the map, with an informative pop-up so that you can immediately see important patterns anywhere within the U.S. or Puerto Rico. You can also easily use the layers to create your own customized web maps and applications in order to tell an endless number of stories about the population or housing in your area. 

Some other benefits to these layers: 

Enhancements just released 

New Layers Allow for More Mapping Possibilities 

ACS layers in ArcGIS Living Atlas cover a whole host of topics around housing, income, internet access, education, disability, and more. We’ve heard your requests for more attributes you need to support your work. This December, there will be a few new additions to the layers that are available in ArcGIS Living Atlas: 

New 2010-2014 layers allow for comparisons over time 

Many users have requested historical ACS vintages so that they can compare how patterns have changed over time. With this release of data, there are now 2010-2014 vintage layers available to match against the layers with the most recent 2015-2019 data. Since these vintages have no overlapping years of surveys, they are possible to compare.  

The 2010-2014 are symbolized in the same way as their corresponding 2015-2019 layers, allowing for direct comparison of patterns within a map. Use the Compare App or create a swipe comparison within ArcGIS StoryMapsClassic Story Maps, or ArcGIS Web AppBuilder to showcase the 2010-2014 map alongside the 2015-2019 version. Bring the two layers into Pro to join, analyze, and map the change itself. We will be publishing some detailed blog posts and tutorials on this shortly, so stay tuned! 

Explore the layers below:

Note that most of the ACS layers have comparable 2010-2014 data values, but not all. For example, the computer and internet questions were introduced after 2010, and therefore do not have any 2010-2014 estimates. 

Get started today 

Find the layers: 

Learn where to find these Census ACS layers and start using them within your mapping and analysis workflows. Check out this story map to learn how. You can also check out this ArcGIS Online group or find them by searching in ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World. 

Map your community: 

Learn how to make a map about your community in 4 easy steps in this blog. You’ll have your own custom web map in minutes! 

Update your existing ACS maps: 

Whenever new ACS figures are released by the Census, we encourage you to check the breakpoints being used in your existing web maps that use the Census ACS Living Atlas layers. After the December release of the new data from the Census, make sure your web map’s existing symbology still make sense with the updated data. 


If you have questions about the layers, visit our FAQ, or post on Esri Community’s Living Atlas space. You can also learn more about the layers in this blog. 

About the authors

I am a Senior Product Engineer on the Living Atlas team at Esri. I work to create clear and concise stories about demographic, socioeconomic, and policy topics using cartography. I also build data layers and tutorials to help others create their own map masterpieces.


(she/her/hers) Diana loves working with data. She has over 15 years experience as a practitioner of demography, sociology, economics, policy analysis, and GIS. Diana holds a BA in quantitative economics and an MA in applied demography. She is a senior GIS engineer on ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World's Policy Maps team. Diana enjoys strong coffee and clean datasets, usually simultaneously.

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