What are Census Summary Levels (SUMLEV)?

If you’re using Mara’s excellent instructions for working with Census 2010 data, you’ll need to know about Summary Levels or SUMLEVs in step 6.

What are Census Summary Levels (SUMLEV)?

Simple Answer: SUMLEV is a Census Bureau code to indicate geography type. For example, in the raw Census 2010 data, all states have a SUMLEV code of “040.”

A Touch of Complexity: SUMLEVs also designate hierarchical relationships for the geographies. For example, a SUMLEV of “050” indicates a County WITHIN a State. A SUMLEV of “140” indicates a Census Tract within a County within a State.

Census Summary Levels

Below is a chart showing SUMLEVs for common geographies.

Geographies SUMELV Hierarchy
Census 2000 & 2010
State 040 State
County 050 State-County
County Subdivison 060 State-County-County Subdivision
Tract 140 State-County-Tract
Block Group 150 State-County-Tract-Block Group
Place (aka City) 160 State-Place

Odd Man Out: Census Blocks

Census Blocks have different Summary levels for Census 2000 and Census 2010.

  • For Census 2000, the SUMLEV for Census Blocks is 101. The geographical hierarchy is State-County-County Subdivision-Place/Remainder-Tract-Block Group-Block.
  • For the Census 2010, the SUMLEV for Census Blocks are either 750 with a hierarchy of State-County-VotingDistrict/Remainder-County Subdivision-Place/Remainder-Tract-Block Group-Block OR 755 with a hierarchy of State-County-VotingDistrict/Remainder-County Subdivision-Subminor Civil Division-Tract-Block Group-Block.

Below are the original sources for Summary Level data from the Census Bureau. Use these to look up a geography types and SUMLEVs that aren’t listed above.

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2 Responses to What are Census Summary Levels (SUMLEV)?

  1. Nathan Banks August 18, 2011 at 7:24 pm #

    With the release of 2010 SF1 data it looks like the Census Block SUMLEV code is 101 rather than the 750/755 noted in the PL94-171.



  1. Census 2010 Data by FTP; American Fact Finder 2 needs Help | Plannovation - March 1, 2011

    […] 6. SUMLEV is the field that will let you extract a particular geography, such as tracts or counties. You can find a full listing of SUMLEVs under Chapter 4 of pl94-171_tech_doc.pdf. So if you want a table that has all the census tracts in your state, type “140″ under the Criteria field of the SUMLEV column in your query design. Learn more about SUMLEVs. […]

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