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The U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 2) mandates a headcount every 10 years of everyone residing in the 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the Island Areas of the United States. It includes people of all ages, races, ethnic groups, citizens, and noncitizens. The first census was conducted in 1790 and one has been conducted every 10 years (decennial) since then. The next census occurs in 2020.
Census data are used in four main ways.
1. To determine the number of representatives each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives (apportionment) and to redraw legislative district boundaries (redistricting)
2. To allocate federal funds (more than $883 billion in fiscal year 2016) to local communities each year.
3. To plan for resident needs such as new roads and transit, schools, health care facilities, and emergency services.
4. To make business decisions about product and service development and placement and business locations.Learn more about what the Constitution says about the census and about the first census in 1790.
Although Census Day will be officially observed on April 1, 2020, the count actually will begin earlier, in March for most people. The 2020 Census will be the first time that households have the option of responding online, by mail, or by phone.In mid-March 2020, most households will receive an invitation in the mail encouraging them to respond online. Areas with households that are less likely to respond online will receive paper questionnaires with their invitations. Responding by phone is also an option. The Census Bureau will follow-up with households that have not responded beginning in May 2020. This Census Bureau infographic shows the complete timeline and gives more details about what to expect in the mail. Group quarters – places where people live or stay in a group-living arrangement—will be counted by Census Bureau employees called enumerators. Some examples of group quarters include nursing homes, group homes, college dorms, residential treatment facilities, correctional facilities, and hospitals.
All responses to Census Bureau surveys and censuses are confidential and protected under Title 13 of the U.S.Code. Your responses are safe, secure, and protected by law. The Census Bureau is required to keep respondent information confidential. They do not share a respondent's personal information with immigration enforcement agencies, like ICE; law enforcement agencies, like the FBI or police; or allow it to be used to determine eligibility for government benefits. The results from any census or survey are reported in statistical format only.Individual records from the decennial censuses are, by law (Title 44, U.S.Code), confidential for 72 years.In addition, under Title 13, U.S.Code, all Census Bureau employees swear a lifetime oath to protect respondent data. It is a felony for any Census Bureau employee to disclose any confidential census information during or after employment, and the penalty for wrongful disclosure is up to 5 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $250,000.Learn more about the 2020 Census and Confidentiality.
The U.S. Census Bureau, states, and local governments begin preparing for the decennial census years before the count takes place. In the summer of 2018, we participated in the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) program.LUCA provides the opportunity to review and comment on the Census Bureau's residential address list prior to the 2020 Census. The Census Bureau needs a complete and accurate address list to reach every living quarters and associated population. It was a four-month effort by GIS and Planning staffs and resulted in capturing 12,460 new addresses.Then in Spring 2019, we participate in the Participant Statistical Areas Program (PSAP). PSAP is the Opportunity to review and modify select statistical boundaries that the U.S. Census Bureau uses to count people in your community. The New Construction Program also helps ensure that the U.S. Census Bureau's address list is as complete and accurate as possible by Census Day, April 1, 2020. It allows local governments to submit addresses for new units where construction began during or after March 1, 2018 and the address was not submitted to the Census Bureau as part of another geographic partnership program since March 2018. Addresses must have basic construction (closing the structure to the elements) completed by Census Day.