As mandated by the U.S. Constitution, our nation gets just one chance each decade to count its population. The U.S. census counts every resident in the United States. It is mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution and takes place every 10 years. The data collected by the census determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives (a process called apportionment) and is also used to distribute billions in federal funds to local communities.
The next census in 2020 will require counting an increasingly diverse and growing population of around 330 million people in more than 140 million housing units. To get an accurate count, the Census Bureau must build an accurate address list of every housing unit, maximize self-response to the census, and efficiently follow up with those who do not respond.
Why a census
The information the Census collects helps determine how more than $675 billion of federal funding is distributed to states and communities each year.
A census aims to count the entire population of a country, and at the location where each person usually lives.
The census asks questions of people in homes and group living situations, including how many people live or stay in each home, and the sex, age and race of each person. The goal is to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place.
How the census benefits a 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. When you respond to the census, you help your community gets its fair share of the more than $675 billion per year in federal funds spent on schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other vital programs.
Businesses use census data to decide where to build factories, offices and stores, and this creates jobs. Developers use the census to build new homes and revitalize old neighborhoods. Local governments use the census for public safety and emergency preparedness. Residents use the census to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality-of-life and consumer advocacy.
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