What is a census and why is it important?
Once a decade, America comes together to count every resident in the United States, creating national awareness of the importance of the census and its valuable statistics. The decennial census was first taken in 1790, as mandated by the Constitution. It counts our population and households, providing the basis for reapportioning congressional seats, redistricting, and distributing more than $675 billion in federal funds annually to support states, counties, and communities’ vital programs — impacting housing, education, transportation, employment, health care, and public policy.
HOW THE CENSUS BENEFITS YOUR COMMUNITY
Federal funds, grants, and support to states, counties, and communities are based on population totals and breakdowns by sex, age, race, and other factors. Your community benefits the most when the census counts everyone. People in your community use census data in all kinds of ways, such as these:
Residents use the census to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality-of-life, and consumer advocacy.
Businesses use Census Bureau data to decide where to build factories, offices, and stores, and these create jobs.
Local government officials use the census to ensure public safety and plan new schools and hospitals.
Real estate developers and city planners use the census to plan new homes and improve neighborhoods.
The next census is coming in 2020. Counting an increasingly diverse and growing population is a massive undertaking. It requires years of planning and the support of thousands of people.
Ultimately, the success of the census depends on everyone’s participation. The Census Bureau depends on cross-sector collaborations with organizations and individuals to get people to participate.
The 2020 Census is important for you and your community, and you can help.
Learn more about the 2020 Census.
What should I know about the 2020 Census?
HELPING YOUR COMMUNITY
In an ever-changing environment, partners are the trusted voices that help address our most pressing challenges, such as:
Constrained fiscal environment. Budget deficits place significant pressure on funding available for the research, testing, design, and development work required for successful innovation.
Rapidly changing use of technology. Stakeholders expect the decennial census to use technology innovation, yet the rapid pace of change makes it challenging to plan for and adequately test the use of these technologies before they become obsolete.
Declining response rates. Response rates for Census Bureau surveys, and for surveys and censuses in general, have declined as citizens are overloaded with requests for information and become increasingly concerned about sharing information.
Increasingly diverse population. The demographic and cultural make-up of the United States continues to increase in complexity, resulting in a growing number of households and individuals who do not speak English as their native language, who have a wide variety of cultural traditions and mores, and who may have varying levels of comfort with government involvement.
A mobile population. The United States continues to be a highly mobile nation — population moves and continued growth in the use of mobile technology can also complicate enumeration. Societal, demographic, and technological trends can result in a population that is harder and more expensive to enumerate as it becomes more challenging to locate individuals and solicit their participation through traditional methods.
January 2020: The Census Bureau begins counting the population in remote Alaska.
April 1, 2020: Census Day is observed nationwide. By this date, every home will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. Once the invitation arrives, you should respond for your home in one of three ways: online, by phone, or by mail. When you respond to the census, you tell the Census Bureau where you live as of April 1, 2020.
April 2020: Census takers begin visiting college students who live on campus, people living in senior centers, and others who live among large groups of people. Census takers also begin conducting quality check interviews to help ensure an accurate count.
May 2020: The Census Bureau begins visiting homes that haven't responded to the 2020 Census to make sure everyone is counted.
December 2020: The Census Bureau delivers apportionment counts to the President and Congress as required by law.
March 31, 2021: By this date, the Census Bureau will send redistricting counts to states. This information is used to redraw legislative districts based on population changes.