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Questions and Answers

Real People, Real Questions, Real Answers

people and faces of America

When will the results from the census be available?

On Dec. 21, the nation will see the very first results from the 2010 Census when we release the total population counts for the nation and each state. As mandated by the Constitution, the census counts every resident in the United States every 10 years to determine the number of seats each state receives in the U.S. House of Representatives. These counts will also show us how our population has grown and shifted over the last decade.

In February and March we’ll begin to see the portrait of America really take shape, as each state receives local-level 2010 Census data on race, Hispanic origin and the voting age population. As required by law, the Census Bureau will provide these key demographic data to the states (on a state-by-state basis), so the state governments can redraw the boundaries of their U.S. Congressional and state legislative districts.

Additional data from the 2010 Census will be released on a flow basis through 2013. View a schedule of data releases.

Why are there multiple estimates for the nation’s population?

On Dec. 6, we released five series of estimates of the national population, based on a methodology called Demographic Analysis. Although NOT 2010 Census counts, these estimates provide one way of measuring the size of the U.S. population in 2010 and will be used to analyze the 2010 Census results. By relying mostly on vital statistics records, its strength is providing an alternative method for estimating the total population of the country.

On Dec. 14, we will release the first five-year estimates from the American Community Survey. Although NOT 2010 Census counts, these 2005-2009 ACS estimates (and each year’s update) will provide timely, detailed statistics about the social, economic and housing characteristics of every community every year. As a continuous sample survey, ACS does not count everyone but relies on a sample of us each year to estimate how all of us are doing. Its strength is that it collects data on a wider variety of subjects and that it produces estimates each and every year. The survey produces estimates about on more than 50 topics, ranging from our ancestry to our work commutes to our housing. ACS estimates give businesses the statistical information they need to create jobs, plan for the future, establish new business and improve our economy.

The very first results from the 2010 Census — the total population counts for the nation and each state - will be released on Dec. 21. As mandated in the U.S. Constitution, these counts are used to determine the number of seats each state receives in the U.S. House of Representatives. These counts will also show us how our population has grown and shifted over the last decade. As a full count of our country taken every 10 years at a snapshot in time, the census provides accurate data for very small areas and population groups.

Why does the Census Bureau ask the questions they do on the surveys?

The Census Bureau asks the questions they do on the surveys because of federal needs and for community benefits.

The information the Census Bureau collects helps determine how more than $400 billion dollars of federal funding annually is spent on infrastructure and services. Your answers help federal, state and local leaders make decisions about: schools, hospitals, emergency services, roads, bridges, job training centers, and many other projects that affect your community.

The link below will provide specific reasons on why the Census Bureau asks EACH question.

2010 Census Form — http://www.census.gov/2010census/about/interactive-form.php

ACS Form — http://www.census.gov/acs/www/about_the_survey/questions_and_why_we_ask/

I thought that the census was only 10 minutes, 10 questions, why am I also getting something called the American Community Survey?

Launched in 2005, the American Community Survey (ACS) is part of the decennial census program and is essentially what used to be the long form. ACS data are collected continuously throughout the year and throughout the decade from a relatively small sample of the population (3 million addresses annually). During the decennial census program, about 250,000 households a month will receive both the ACS and the 2010 Census form. The ACS collects detailed information on the characteristics of population and housing on an ongoing basis. These data were previously collected only in census years in conjunction with the decennial census. During Census 2000, the Census Bureau asked for this detailed information from one in every six addresses. The ACS questionnaire collects nearly the same information and is sent to approximately the same number of addresses over a five-year period. However, since the ACS is conducted every year, rather than once every 10 years, it provides more current data throughout the decade. Like the 2010 Census participation in the ACS is mandatory by law and the American public’s participation is vital to provide data that impacts policy decisions on the local, state, and federal level.

I thought the census was over — why am I still being contacted by the Census Bureau?

The Census Bureau conducts a variety of censuses and surveys, not just the once-a-decade census. Every month, quarter, and year we conduct surveys with households and businesses to measure our nation’s people, places and economy.

We use a workforce of trained federal employees to conduct a variety of household surveys by telephone and in-person interviews, as well as the mail.

If someone from the Census Bureau has visited you, and you have any questions, you may speak directly via telephone or e-mail with your Census Bureau Regional Office.

If you have received a telephone call from someone at the Census Bureau, and you have any questions, you may speak directly via telephone or e-mail with an employee of the National Processing Center.

The surveys we conduct provide information about social and economic conditions in the country, including employment, housing, manufacturing, trade, and many other topics. The questions we ask are used only to produce statistics, and you are never identified individually. For more information on how we protect your information, please see our Data Protection and Privacy Policy website.

How is apportionment calculated?

The apportionment for the 2010 Census is calculated using the method of equal proportions, according to the provisions of Title 2, U.S. Code. Congress decides the method used to calculate the apportionment. This method has been used after every census since the 1940 Census. To learn more, view our short animated video.

The method computes “priority values,” based on each state’s apportionment population. The priority values are calculated by dividing the population of each state by the geometric mean of its current and next seats. The priority values are then ranked and used to assign members in the U.S. House of Representatives starting with the 51st seat.

The Constitution provided that each state would have a minimum of one seat in the House. With the current House size being 435 seats, the apportionment calculation divides the remaining 385 seats among the 50 states. Congressional seats are allocated one at a time until all 435 seats have been filled. It takes 385 rounds before the 435th seat has been filled (435 minus the first 50 which are automatically assigned).

Can I view the history of the nation’s population change and apportionment?

Check out the apportionment results to see how the nation's population, population density and apportionment have changed over the last 100 years.

How is the U.S. “resident population” different from the “apportionment population”?

The U.S. resident population only includes everyone living and staying in the 50 states, including the District of Columbia, at the time of the 2010 Census. The apportionment population includes both the U.S. resident population and the U.S. military and federal civilian employees living overseas (and their dependents living with them). The apportionment population is what is used to apportion the number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives that each state receives. The resident population is used in all other 2010 Census data products. (The apportionment population does not include the District of Columbia because it does not have a voting seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.)

What 2010 Census products will use the resident population?

All standard 2010 Census data products will provide counts based on the resident population. This will include the redistricting data to be released in February-March 2011, the Demographic Profile to be released in May 2011, and Summary File 1, to be released beginning in June 2011. The schedule for the release of products that contain counts of the resident population is available at http://www.census.gov/population/www/cen2010/glance/index.html

What is redistricting?

Redistricting is when state officials realign congressional and state legislative districts in their states, taking into account population shifts since the last census and assuring equal representation for their constituents in compliance with the "one-person, one-vote" principle of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

When are redistricting data released?

Public Law 94-171 requires that the redistricting data must be delivered to state officials responsible for legislative redistricting within one year of Census day or no later than April 1, 2011. The Census Bureau will be releasing redistricting data to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico on a state-by-state basis throughout February and March 2011. Learn more about the data releases.

Is there a schedule for release by state posted on the 2010 Census website?

We are releasing data as soon as we complete quality checks to verify the data are correct. Due to the complexity and tight deadline of releasing local-level data down to the census block level for 50 states by April 1, 2011, we cannot provide a schedule for release of the states. However, we will issue an advisory about a week in advance that includes the states that are next in line to receive census data. We will send another advisory when the data has been shipped for each state. Generally within 24 hours of shipping the data, we will receive confirmation from the states and be able to release the data. Public Law 94-171 requires that data for all states be released to the state leadership by April 1, or one year after census day.

What will redistricting data consist of?

For each state, the Census Bureau will provide summaries of population totals, as well as data on race, Hispanic or Latino origin and voting age for multiple levels of geography within the state, such as census blocks, tracts, voting districts, cities, counties, school districts, etc. The Census Bureau will also provide housing unit counts with their occupancy status.

What happens after the redistricting data are in the states' hands?

Each state will conduct its own redistricting process. Once the states have finished their redistricting process, the Census Bureau will collect from them their post-2010 Census state legislative and congressional district boundaries and will retablulate the 2010 Census redistricting data for the 113th Congress and the newly drawn state legislative districts.

How does the Census Bureau determine the order of states for releasing the data?

This following link lists each state and their redistricting deadlines. The states' deadlines provide a general guide that the Census Bureau uses when determining the possible order of release. Public Law 94-171 requires that data for all states be released to the state leadership by April 1, or one year after census day.

See: http://www.census.gov/rdo/about_the_program/additional_redistricting_resources.html and then click on the link for the 2010 State Redistricting Profiles hosted by the Minnesota Senate.

So far, it looks like the Census Bureau is releasing data for four states at a time ... is that the expected rate of release going forward?

The number of states released each week will vary, depending on how quickly the data are checked and when we receive confirmation from the state leadership that they have received it. Each week, we will put out an advisory listing the states that are anticipated for the week ahead. Once we have shipped the data to each state, we will issue another advisory to let the media and public know. Generally within 24 hours of shipping the data, we will receive confirmation from the states and be able to release the data.

Are the data being released just apportionment population or is it resident population as well?

The data are released for the resident population of each state. The U.S. resident population only includes everyone living and staying in the 50 states, including the District of Columbia, at the time of the 2010 Census. The apportionment population includes both the U.S. resident population and the U.S. military and federal civilian employees stationed outside the United States (and their dependents living with them) that can be allocated back to a home state. The apportionment population is what is used to apportion the number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives that each state receives. The resident population is used in all other 2010 Census data products. (The apportionment population does not include the District of Columbia because it does not have a voting seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.)