WHY DO WE TAKE THE CENSUS?
- The U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 2) mandates a headcount every 10 years, of everyone residing in the United States: in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the Island Areas. This includes people of all ages, races, ethnic groups, citizens, and noncitizens. The first census was conducted in 1790 and has been carried out every 10 years since then.
- The next census occurs in 2020. The population totals from this census will determine the number of seats each state has in the House of representatives. States also use the totals to redraw their legislative districts.
- The U.S. Census Bureau must submit state population totals to the President of the United States by December 31, 2020.
- The totals also affect funding in your community, and data collected in the census help inform decision makers how your community is changing. Approximately $300 billion in federal funding is distributed to communities
2020 Census Timeline: Key Dates
- Fall 2018: Recruitment begins for local census jobs for early census operations.
- Spring 2019: Census employees go door-to-door to update address list nationwide.
- Fall 2019: Recruitment begins for census takers needed for peak workload in 2010.
- February - March 2020: Census questionnaires are mailed or delivered to households.
- April 1, 2020: Census Day
- April - July 2020: Census takers visit households that did not return a questionnaire by mail.
- December 2020: By law, Census Bureau delivers population counts to President for apportionment.
- March 2021: By law, Census Bureau completes delivery of redistricting data to states.
Will the 2020 Census be the same as 2010?
No, there are some important changes
- 2020 Census will be short form only-just 10 easy questions.
- The long form is now part of the annual American Community Survey.
- Handheld computers with Global Positioning System will be used to check our address list in 2019.
How Are Census Data Used?
Census data are widely and wisely used.
Determining congressional seats and federal funding is just a hint of the many important uses of census data. Take a look at examples below and refer to the appendix for even more uses of census data. (See Appendix A: 50 Ways Census Data Are Used.)
The federal government uses population data to allocate funds in a number of areas:
- Title 1 grants to educational agencies (school districts across the nation)
- Head Start programs
- Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) (food grants)
- Public transportation
- Road rehabilitation and construction
- Programs for the elderly
- Emergency food and shelter
- Empowerment zones
The data help the private sector as well as state and federal governments determine where jobs and job programs are needed.
Census data help potential homeowners research property values, median income, and other demographic information about a particular community.
Corporations use population data for market research to determine locations for commercial enterprises, such as food stores, pharmacies, and other essential services.
Are Census Data Really Confidential?
- Your answers are protected by law (Title 13 of the U.S. Code, Section 9) and are strictly confidential. It is illegal for the Census Bureau, or its employees, to share your personal information with any other government agency-not law enforcement, IRS, Welfare, FBI, Immigration, etc.
- No court of law, not even the President of the United States, can access your individual responses.
1953-During the Truman administration, the White House had to undergo renovation. It was necessary to relocate the President until the renovation was completed. The Secret Service requested from the Census Bureau information on residents living in the proposed relocation area for the purpose of performing background checks. However, because census data are ABSOLUTELY CONFIDENTIAL, even to the President, the request was denied. President Truman spent his exile at Blair House.
- Census workers must pass security and employment reference checks and are highly motivated to protect your answers. All Census Bureau employees are subject to a $250,000 FINE AND/OR A 5-YEAR PRISON TERM for disclosing any information that could identify a respondent or household.
1980-Armed with a search warrant authorizing them to seize census documents, four FBI agents entered the Census Bureau's Colorado Springs office. No confidential information was ever released because a census worker held off the agents until her superiors resolved the issue with the FBI.