US Constitution

U.S. Constitution

The United States began conducting a census of population and housing in 1790 and have conducted a census count every 10 years since then. The U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 2, mandates an apportionment (the process of dividing the 435 seats in the US House of Representatives among 50 states) every 10 years.

The population totals, which includes people of all ages, races, ethnic groups, citizens, and noncitizens also affect funding in your community. Approximately $675 billion in federal funding is distributed to communities each year. The data collected in the census also help decision makers know how your community is changing.

The 2020 Census will be the first time you will be able to respond online, by phone, or by mail.

Census data

Census Data is Completely Confidential

  • All responses to Census Bureau surveys and censuses are confidential and protected under Title 13 of the U.S. Code. Under this law, the Census Bureau is required to keep respondent information confidential and will never 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 their 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.
Uses of Census Data

The Many Uses of Census Data

Census data are used in many ways. Some examples include:

  • Distribution of more than $675 billion annually in federal funds back to tribal, state, and local governments.
  • Redistricting of state legislative districts.
  • Forecasting future transportation needs for all segments of the population.
  • Determining areas eligible for housing assistance and rehabilitation loans.
  • Assisting federal, tribal, state, and local governments in planning and implementing programs, services, and emergency response.
  • Designing facilities for people with disabilities, the elderly, and children.