The 2020 Census counts every person living in the 50 states, District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories.
The count is mandated by the Constitution and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency. The 2020 Census counts the population in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each home will receive an invitation to respond to a short questionnaire—online, by phone, or by mail. This will mark the first time that you will be able to respond to the census online.
The census provides critical data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and many others use to provide daily services, products, and support for you and your community. Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other resources based on census data.
The results of the census also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, and they are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.
It’s also in the Constitution: Article 1, Section 2, mandates that the country conduct a count of its population once every 10 years. The 2020 Census will mark the 24th time that the country has counted its population since 1790.
Participating in the census is required by law, even if you recently completed another survey from the Census Bureau. A complete and accurate count is critical for you and your community, because the results of the 2020 Census will affect community funding, congressional representation, and more.
There are three ways to respond to the 2020 Census.
By April 1, 2020, every home will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. You will have three options for responding:
2. By phone.
3. By mail.
The 2020 Census marks the first time you’ll have the option to respond online. You can even respond on your mobile device.
The 2020 Census is easy. The questions are simple.
As required by the Census Act, the U.S. Census Bureau submitted a list of questions to Congress on March 29, 2018. Based on those questions, the 2020 Census will ask:
- How many people are living or staying at your home on April 1, 2020. This will help us count the entire U.S. population and ensure that we count people according to where they live on Census Day.
- Whether the home is owned or rented. This will help us produce statistics about homeownership and renting. The rates of homeownership serve as one indicator of the nation’s economy. They also help in administering housing programs and informing planning decisions.
- About the sex of each person in your home. This allows us to create statistics about males and females, which can be used in planning and funding government programs. This data can also be used to enforce laws, regulations, and policies against discrimination.
- About the age of each person in your home. The U.S. Census Bureau creates statistics to better understand the size and characteristics of different age groups. Agencies use this data to plan and fund government programs that support specific age groups, including children and older adults.
- About the race of each person in your home. This allows us to create statistics about race and to provide other statistics by racial groups. This data helps federal agencies monitor compliance with anti-discrimination provisions, such as those in the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act.
About whether a person in your home is of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin. These responses help create statistics about this ethnic group. This is needed by federal agencies to monitor compliance with anti-discrimination provisions, such as those in the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act.
- About the relationship of each person in your home. This allows the Census Bureau to create estimates about families, households, and other groups. Relationship data is used in planning and funding government programs that support families, including people raising children alone.
Governments, businesses, communities, and nonprofits all rely on the data that these questions produce to make critical decisions.
The Census Will Never Ask Certain Questions
During the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau will never ask you for:
- Your Social Security number.
- Money or donations.
- Anything on behalf of a political party.
- Your bank or credit card account numbers.
If someone claiming to be from the Census Bureau contacts you via email or phone and asks you for one of these things, it’s a scam, and you should not cooperate.
What Happens to Your Answers?
Your personal information is kept confidential. The Census Bureau is bound by federal law to protect your information, and your data is used only for statistical purposes. Your responses are compiled with information from other homes to produce statistics, which never identify your home or any person in your home. Learn more about how we protect your information.
Importance of the Data
The 2020 Census will provide a snapshot of our nation—our population, where we live, and so much more.
The results are critically important because this once-a-decade census data helps businesses, researchers, and communities make decisions. The data can help inform where your community needs a new fire department, more funding for school lunches, or new roads.
Did You Know?
Nevada was the fastest-growing state between 2000 and 2010. In that same time, the overall population of the United States grew 9.7 percent, jumping from 281,421,906 to 308,745,538.
Of course, the census tells us much more than just the population of our country, your state, and your community. The census produces a wide range of statistics about the makeup of those populations, from ages and races to how many people own their home.
In 2010, for example, we learned that women made up 50.8 percent of the population. We also learned that the male population grew at a slightly faster rate (9.9 percent) than the female population (9.5 percent) in the decade between 2000 and 2010.
The U.S. Constitution requires that electoral districts be periodically adjusted or redrawn to account for population shifts. Each decade, the census reveals where populations have risen or fallen.
State legislatures or independent bipartisan commissions handle the process of redrawing congressional district lines. The U.S. Census Bureau provides population counts to the states for this purpose.
The census also collects data that is valuable for businesses, which rely on census results to help make decisions such as where to open new stores, where to expand operations, and which products and services to offer.