The U.S. Constitution mandates that everyone in the country be counted every 10 years. The first census was in 1790. The census counts every person living in the U.S. once, only once, and in the right place.
The results of the census are used to reapportion the House of Representatives, determining how many seats each state gets. After each decade’s census, state officials redraw the boundaries of the congressional and state legislative districts in their states to account for population shifts.
Also, the distribution of more than $675 billion in federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities are based on census data. That money is spent on schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other vital programs.
Census data is used everyday to make decisions that affect the community:
- Local governments use the census for public safety and emergency preparedness;
- Businesses use census data to decide where to build factories, offices and stores, which create jobs;
- Real estate developers use the census to build new homes and revitalize old neighborhoods;
- Residents use the census to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality-of-life and consumer advocacy.
Completing the census is mandatory: it’s a way to participate in our democracy and say “I COUNT!” And, in 2020, it's easier than ever. You'll be able to respond to the census online at 2020census.gov.