What is a census and why is it important?

Once a decade, America comes together to count every resident in the United States, creating national awareness of the importance of the census and its valuable statistics. The decennial census was first taken in 1790, as mandated by the Constitution. It counts our population and households, providing the basis for reapportioning congressional seats, redistricting, and distributing more than $675 billion in federal funds annually to support states, counties, and communities’ vital programs – impacting housing, education, transportation, employment, health care, and public policy.

How the census benefits your 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. People in your community use census data in all kinds of ways, such as these:

Residents use the census to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality-of-life, and consumer advocacy.

Businesses use Census Bureau data to decide where to build factories, offices, and stores, and these create jobs.

Local government officials use the census to ensure public safety and plan new schools and hospitals.

Real estate developers and city planners use the census to plan new homes and improve neighborhoods.