Determining Level of Need

There are 2,351 Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs) in the United States. They are the geographies within states that are surveyed in order to gain more representative samples of populations. The PUMAs and state workforce regions are simply displayed in rank order (in percentiles) relative to other PUMAs and regions across the U.S. on each factor in the EWNI. The education, workforce, and population factors of the index are the average of the percentile rankings across each of the measures in the factor. The “overall” need is the average of the education and workforce factor scores of each of the PUMAs.

What are Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs)?

  • Non-overlapping, statistical geographic areas that partition each state or equivalent entity into geographic areas containing no fewer than 100,000 people.
  • Cover entirety of United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Defined every ten years for the tabulation and dissemination of the decennial census and American Community Survey (ACS) Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) data.
  • Also used in the publication of the ACS and Puerto Rico Community Survey period estimates.


  • Available annually (detailed Public Use File)
  • More accurately reflect demographic patterns by population density (urban and rural)
  • Ability to more finely disaggregate (by age-group, race, gender, occupation, education level, labor force status, etc.)


  • Smaller sample size (1% American Community Survey vs. 5% Decennial Long Form)
  • Ability to finely disaggregate (standard errors)
  • Communication of geographic boundaries (counties vs. PUMAs)


Education and Workforce Needs Index U.S. Census Bureau, 2019 American Community Survey 5-year PUMS (Public Use Microdata Sample).

Steven Ruggles, Sarah Flood, Sophia Foster, Ronald Goeken, Jose Pacas, Megan Schouweiler and Matthew Sobek. IPUMS USA: Version 11.0 [dataset]. Minneapolis, MN: IPUMS, 2021.

Skip to content