The census is a count of people who live in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Island areas. It is required by the U.S. Constitution, according to the Census Act of 1790. The census is decennial, which means it happens every 10 years.
The census is taken by having all households in the country complete a form. In the past, people were only able to receive and answer the census by mail. But in 2020, for the first time, people will also be able to answer the census online. This means families have three ways to participate: online, by phone or by mail.
Your responses to the U.S. census are strictly confidential. Federal law prohibits the U.S. Census Bureau and its workers from sharing any information they collect from individuals and businesses. It is a crime to share any information collected through the census. Other agencies will not see the facts about you and your household.
Census data is used in many ways. It helps the nation decide how and where to spend money. That money supports new roads, schools and health care programs as well as services for children and seniors.
The census provides statistics on the numbers and characteristics of the U.S. population, including age an sex, race and origin, education, and housing.
Everyone in your household is counted, including children and babies.
Census results help determine how billions of dollars in federal funding flow into communities each year, supporting schools, health clinics, fire departments, roads and highways. Your census participation helps your community thrive.
Census participation determines how many seats in Congress each state gets. More participants means more representation of those participants in the U.S. Government.
Your answers are confidential. By law, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about you, your home, or your business, even to law enforcement agencies. That's protected under Title 13 of the U.S. Code.