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What is the Census?

  • 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.

How does the Census affect you?

  • 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.
  • Census data affect your voice in Congress by determining how many seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • 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.

When is the Census?

  • February and March 2010: The Census questionnaires are mailed out.
  • April 1: Census Day.
  • April to July 2010: Census takers will visit households that did not return the questionnaires.

What does the Census ask?

The 2010 Census questionnaire asks 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. This simple, short questionnaire takes just a few minutes to complete and return by mail.

Who will see this information?

  • The Census Bureau does not release or share information that identifies individual respondents or their household for 72 years.

Learn More About the Census

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