As mandated by the U.S. Constitution, America gets just one chance each decade to count its population. The U.S. Census Bureau counts every resident in the United States. It is mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution and takes place every 10 years. Not only do we have to count people, we have to know where they live so we can provide accurate population numbers for counties, states, municipals, etc. These numbers are used to draw school and voting districts.
Census data, collected every 10 years, determines your representation in Congress and determines how funds are spent in your community on things like roads, schools, and hospitals.
The 2020 Census will use a new design that incorporates online and phone response options in addition to the traditional paper option. The online response option allows people to respond on their desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, or tablets.
Here’s how the census helps you and your community:
- Communities use the information to plan bus routes, draw school district boundaries, and offer community services.
- Businesses use census data to decide where to put a store, office, or plant. These new locations create jobs and support the community’s economy.
- Businesses use the information to determine what to sell in their stores so communities get what they need.
- The information helps your community receive funding from the federal government.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the census?
The census is a count of every person who lives in the United States and its territories. It happens every 10 years. In early 2020, you will be asked to count everyone who lives in your home as of April 1. Responding to the 2020 Census is a chance to shape your future.
What’s in it for me?
- Your responses inform where over $675 billion is distributed each year to communities nationwide for clinics, schools, roads, and more.
- Census data gives community leaders vital information to make decisions about building community centers, opening businesses, and planning for the future.
- Responding also fulfills your civic duty because it’s mandated by the U.S. Constitution. The United States has counted its population every 10 years since 1790.
- Your responses are used to redraw legislative districts and determine the number of seats your state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Is my information safe?
Your responses to the 2020 Census are safe, secure, and protected by federal law. Your answers can only be used to produce statistics. They cannot be used against you by any government agency or court in any way—not by the FBI, not by the CIA, not by the DHS, and not by ICE.
When can I respond to the census?
In early 2020, every household in America will receive a notice to complete the census online, by phone, or by mail. In May, the U.S. Census Bureau will begin following up in person with households that have yet to respond.
What will I be asked?
You will be asked a few simple questions, like age, sex, and the number of people who live in your home, including children.
What won’t be asked?
The census will never ask for Social Security numbers, bank or credit card numbers, money or donations, or anything related to political parties.