Using Social Explorer

The following tutorial explains the steps necessary in order to download Social Explorer data and use it within ArcMap.

For this tutorial, we will be downloading RACE data by Los Angeles County CENSUS TRACTs from the ACS 2006-2010.

Step 1: Getting the data from Social Explorer

  1. go to the social explorer Reports page
  2. click on the » ACS 2006-2010 new link on the left menu bar
  3. for “select geography type” choose “census tract

    Make sure you choose the correct geography type 

  4. for “state” choose California
  5. for “county” choose Los Angeles
  6. highlight “all census tracts in Los Angeles County” and click the “add” button
  7. click “next
  8. click on the “search” tab and enter “race
  9. highlight “T13 Race” and click “add
  10. click on “show results
  11. click on the “Data Download” tab
  12. uncheck “output labels on 2nd line” (IMPORTANT)
  13. click on the “Census Data (CSV)” and save the file

Step 2: Getting the matching boundary data

  1. Since we are working with 2010 data, we need to join this data with 2010 Census Tracts.   You can get the 2010 census tract data from a variety of sources.  Here are a few options:
    1. Tiger Download Site
  2. For “Layer type”, choose “Census Tracts”, then select “California” to download the zipped shapefile.

Step 3: Making sure the FIPS code imports into ArcMap as a text field, not numeric

One of the biggest shortcomings in ArcMap (and Excel for that matter), is that it will interpret our FIPS code as a number, essentially dropping the all important leading “0” that represents the code for California (“06”).  In order to use the social explorer csv data in ArcMap, we must first create an excel version of it with the column correctly assigned as a text field.

  1. Open Excel
  2. Go to Data, Get External Data, Import Text File
  3. Import the csv file you downloaded from Social Explorer
  4. Choose “Delimited” for Step 1 of the Text Import Wizard and click “next
  5. In Step 2, check the box next to “comma” and click “next
  6. In Step 3, highlight the Geo_FIPS column, and choose “text” as the Column data format.
  7. Click “Finish
  8. Save the spreadsheet as an Excel 97-2004 (.xls) format, not an .xlsx format (this yields more reliable results in ArcMap).

Step 4: Mapping the data in ArcMap

  1. Open ArcMap and add the California Census Tract file and the xls file you converted in Step 3
  2. Right click on the census tract layer, choose join and relates, join
  3. Make sure you are on “join attributes from a table“, and select the following:
    1. Step 1: “GEOID” or “FIPS
    2. Step 2: Choose the xls file you added
    3. Step 3: “Geo_FIPS
  4. Now that your data is joined, you can choose to symbolize the census tract layer on the new race fields you imported