​What You Need to Know about the Census

The U.S. census is taken every 10 years. The data from the census affects political representation and directs the allocation of billions of dollars in government funding. View facts about the census below:

The Census: A Snapshot

  • The U.S. Constitution requires a national census once every 10 years.
  • The census is a count of everyone residing in the United States: in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa. This includes people of all ages, races, ethnic groups, both citizens and non-citizens.

Participation in the Census Matters

  • Every year, more than $300 billion in federal funds is awarded to states and communities based on census data. That’s more than $3 trillion over a 10-year period.
  • Census data guide local decision-makers in important community planning efforts, including where to build new roads, hospitals and schools.
  • Census data affect your voice in Congress by determining how many seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Census information helps determine locations for schools, roads, hospitals, child-care and senior citizen centers, and more.
  • Businesses use census data to locate supermarkets, shopping centers, new housing and other facilities.
  • The census determines how many seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as the boundaries of legislative districts.

Will the information the Census Bureau collected remain confidential?

Yes. Every Census Bureau worker takes an oath for life to protect the confidentiality of census responses. Violation would result in a jail term of up to five years and/or fine of up to $250,000. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share an individual’s answers with anyone, including welfare and immigration agencies.
  • The Census questionnaire asked only a few simple questions of each person—name, relationship, gender, age and date of birth, race, and whether the respondent owns or rents his or her home.
  • The Census Bureau does not release or share information that identifies individual respondents or their household for 72 years.