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Link to Census 2000 Gateway Frequently Asked Questions

I. Census 2000 Data

(The Census 2000 Data Products At a Glance has been placed on the internet.)


  1. When will the Census Bureau deliver the Census 2000 redistricting data?

    We will begin delivery of these data in March 2001 and we will complete delivery to the governor and majority and minority legislative leaders in each state by April 1, 2001.

  2. My state must redistrict in the first half of 2001; will the Census Bureau deliver our P.L. 94-171 Redistricting Data on a priority basis before April 1, 2001?

    We will do all that is possible to consider each state’s redistricting deadlines as we plan the sequence of our data processing. Already we have confirmed with each state legislature any deadlines the state faces.

  3. How can I get race and Hispanic/Latino data for all of the blocks in _____? For all of the voting districts in _____?

    Block and voting district data by race and Hispanic/Latino are available on the Census 2000 Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File. This file, on CD-ROM and DVD, is available for purchase from our Customer Services Center, Marketing Services Office. Call 301-763-INFO(4636) or e-mail www.webmaster@census.gov for more information.

    A special redistricting page https://www.census.gov/rdo/ will have links to explanatory information on the Census Bureau’s redistricting program, the computer mapping files and map images used in support of redistricting, the detailed redistricting data in American Factfinder, the news releases and attached custom tables, tentative weekly schedule for release of states, the ftp files and other related pages.

    These data also are available through the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder website http://factfinder.census.gov/. Users wishing to retrieve only a selection of data tables (such as Quick Tables or Geographic Comparison Tables) or maps from this large data file will appreciate the ease of access, functionality and flexibility of the Bureau’s American FactFinder, available to users worldwide via the Internet. However, users wishing to acquire complete data sets will appreciate the speed, reliability and easy handling of DVDs and CD-ROMs.The users who need multiple tables for many layers of geography should consider using CD-ROMs or DVDs. Therefore, for downloading large data files, the Census Bureau recommends the use of CD-ROMs or DVDs for both the convenience and access provided with the delivery of data on CD-ROM or DVD.

  4. Where can I get copies of the census tract maps, the block maps, and the voting district outline maps?

    These maps are available from several sources and on several media. Paper copies of maps showing either census tracts, census block groups, census blocks and voting districts can be purchased from the Census Bureau. They are in color and are 33 x 36 inches in size. Electronic versions are also available in Adobe PDF format. The Adobe PDF version is designed to be viewed by the Adobe Acrobat Reader on almost any personal computer. The PDF map files will be available for downloading from our Web site and for purchase on DVD and CD-ROM from the Census Bureau. Information on purchasing paper copies and discs, as well as hints and guidelines for viewing and plotting the PDF maps, is available at the U.S. Census Bureau’s Mapping and Cartographic Resource webpage.

  5. How will I know when the P.L. 94-171 Redistricting Data for my state is released?

    A notice listing the states that have been released will be posted on the redistricting page of the Census Bureau’s Web site at https://www.census.gov/rdo/ and on the American FactFinder at http://factfinder.census.gov. You may also contact the Census Redistricting Data Office at www.rdo@census.gov or telephone 301-763-0253 or 0254.

  6. When will the TIGER/Line files and other geographic products used for redistricting be available?

    TIGER/Line Files available now.

    Maps (County Block, Census Tract Outline, and Voting District):

  7. Where can I obtain data on people who report more than one race?

    The first available data on people who report more than one race are provided in the Census 2000 Redistricting Data (P.L. 94-171) Summary File. This will be accessible through the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder website http://factfinder.census.gov/ as well as on CD-ROM. These data will be shown in state level files down to the block level. All states will be available by April 2, 2001.

  8. When will housing unit counts become available?

    Counts of housing units for governmental entities and for a variety of summary statistical geographic entities will be available on the Internet https://www.census.gov/main/www/cen2000.html and through the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder website http://factfinder.census.gov/ during May 2001. Counts of housing units at the block and tract level will be available in Summary File 1 (SF 1) and for the place and/or governmental unit level in the 100-Percent Demographic Profile. SF 1 will be released on a state-by-state basis beginning in June 2001. Both are accessible through the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder website http://factfinder.census.gov/.

    Additional data on population and housing characteristics will be available in the Demographic Profile at the place and/or governmental unit level in a mailing to data users and highest elected officials during May 2001. The profiles will also be available in PDF format through the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder website http://factfinder.census.gov/.

Summary File 1 and Summary File 2 (100-percent data)

  1. When will I be able to get characteristics of the White/Black/etc. population (100-percent data)?

    Summary File 1 (SF 1) will contain characteristics of the White/Black or African American/etc. population. This file will be released on a state-by-state flow basis from June to September 2001.

    In addition, the population and housing characteristics on Summary File 2 (SF 2) will be iterated by 128 race groups, 78 American Indian and Alaska Native tribe categories, and 39 Hispanic or Latino groups. These data will be available from September to December 2001. Both of these files will be available on CD-ROM and will be accessible through the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder website http://factfinder.census.gov/.

    SF 1 also will contain counts for 63 race groups (all combination of White, Black or African American, American Indian and Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, and Some other race) down to the block level and detailed race categories down to the census tract level.

    Additional data on population and housing characteristics will be available in the Demographic Profile at the place and/or governmental unit level in a mailing to data users and highest elected officials during May 2001. The profiles will also be available in PDF format through the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder website http://factfinder.census.gov/.

  2. Is the race and Hispanic/Latino data available by ZIP Code?

    Data by race and Hispanic origin by three-digit and five-digit ZIP Code® Tabulation Area (ZCTATM) will be available on Summary File 1, which will be released on a state-by-state basis beginning in June 2001. Summary File 1 is accessible through the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder website http://factfinder.census.gov/.

    A ZIP Code Tabulation Area, or ZCTA, is a statistical geographic area that approximates the delivery area for a United States Postal Service three-digit or five-digit ZIP Code. ZCTAs are aggregations of census blocks where the ZCTA represents the predominant ZIP Code of addresses in the Census Bureau’s Master Address File. ZCTAs do not precisely depict the ZIP Code delivery area and will not include all ZIP Codes used for mail delivery.

Sample Data

  1. When will income/poverty/educational attainment/industry/occupation/other sample items data become available?

    The first sample data items will be available from the Demographic Profiles from March 2002 through May 2002. These data will be accessible through the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder website http://factfinder.census.gov/. These profiles also will be on CD-ROM as part of the Summary File 3 (SF 3) product, which is planned for release on a state-by-state basis beginning in June 2002. Additional data for race, ethnic, and ancestry data are found in Summary File 4 (SF4).

    The data collected as a part of the Census 2000 Supplementary Sample (C2SS) will be released in July 2001. These indicators of education, industry and occupation, income and poverty, and measures of housing quality and costs are part of sample collected through the American Community Survey (ACS).


  1. Where can I get the TIGER/line files that will be released with the 2000 Census data?

    The TIGER/Line files that should be used with the 2000 Census data are those in the TIGER/Line 2000 release. These files are available for downloading for free from the Census Bureau’s website. Go to the TIGER page https://www.census.gov/geo/www/tiger/ for links to the files and the documentation.

  2. How can I determine the census 2000 tract, block group, or block for a location?

    There are several options for determining the census 2000 tract, block group or block number for a given area. The most convenient method for determining census tracts and block groups for those with Internet access is to visit the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder website http://factfinder.census.gov/. There one can view a map of the area of interest and select the types of boundaries to be shown, including tract and block group. Entering a street address to identify the area of interest makes location on the map easy.

    To determine the census block for a given location one needs to view either a P.L. 94-171 County Block map or a Census 2000 block map. The Census Bureau also produces maps showing census tracts and their higher level geography.

    Maps can also be purchased from the Census Bureau on DVD and CD-ROM.

  3. What type of plotter do I need to make use of the HP-GL files for plotting maps?

    The Census Bureau cannot endorse models from one specific manufacturer over others, however, we can provide information on the types of equipment that we have used successfully and some hardware requirement guidelines. These can be found at the census Internet site at https://www.census.gov/geo/DR/plotter.pdf.

  4. How will I be able to get the geographic information needed to match to the data products?

    Geographic information is available from the "Geography" link on the Census Bureau’s website https://www.census.gov. Users will find links to descriptions of census geography and geographic products such as maps that show boundaries and names of geographic areas and data maps that show census data. TIGER/Line files, the Census Bureau’s digital database of geographic features for the United States and the U.S. Island Areas, and cartographic boundary files are useful for users working with geographic information systems. Information on maps also is available at the Census Bureau’s catalog https://www.census.gov/mp/www/censtore.html and through the American FactFinder website http://factfinder.census.gov where users can view geography on-line and make maps of geographic areas and census data of their interest.

General Questions

  1. How can I get Census 2000 figures certified for a court case?

    For a certification involving information produced by the Census Bureau, a customer can print off the request form on the certification web page and fax it to the Customer Services Center (301-457-3842). You can also submit the request via e-mail (MSO.Certify@census.gov) or over the phone (301-763-INFO). There is a fee for this service.

  2. Is there a way that I can be automatically notified about the release of a product?

    Yes, subscribe to the Census Product Update, a biweekly e-mail newsletter with timely information regarding recently released and key upcoming Bureau data products. To subscribe, go to http://ask.census.gov/cgi-bin/askcensus.cfg/php/enduser/doc_serve.php?2=CPUForm.

  3. Can you send me these data by e-mail?

    No, we are not offering this service.

  4. How soon after the official release may I expect to receive my order for a specific data product?

    As soon as the primary stakeholders (State legislatures, State data centers, etc.) receive their data, we will make the data available on the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder website http://factfinder.census.gov as well as other media (CD, DVD). Estimated time after the first public release for one-off CDs is 48 hours; for manufactured CDs and DVDs, up to 3-4 weeks.

  5. How soon may I place a standing order for a specific data product? Will you bill me immediately or when you send the product?

    As soon as the Customer Services Center has complete information about the release and final production schedule for the product, it will be listed and offered for sale in the Catalog at www.census.gov. Once this information is available, you may order the product. Assuming you pay by credit card, we will process the credit transaction immediately and send you the product as soon as it arrives into our inventory.

  6. Will all products be available to order via E-Commerce?

    Yes, we plan to use E-commerce services for all the Census 2000 products sold by the Census Bureau. We anticipate this service will be available in mid-March. However, for customers who want to talk to one of our Customer Services Representatives, call 301 763-INFO(4636). You may also pay by check though this takes more time for most orders.

  7. If I ordered all the products, how much would it cost for my state?

    We will not know the final price until the size of the files are known. However, the standard price for one CD-ROM is $50; the pricing for one DVD is $70. The TIGER series DVDs are $90 each. There will be additional packaged CD-ROM and DVD products that will be announced later. These will be designed to save the customer both time and money when ordering these products.

  8. Do you plan to offer training about the use of these products? If so, when and where?

    We will be offering general training on Census 2000 products from our 12 regional offices across the country. Please call the regional office nearest you for general training:

    Atlanta 404-730-3833
    Boston 617-424-0510
    Charlotte 704-344-6144
    Chicago 312-353-9747
    Dallas 214-655-3050
    Denver 303-969-7750
    Detroit 313-259-1875
    Kansas City 913-551-6711
    Los Angeles 818-904-6339
    New York 212-264-4730
    Philadelphia 215-656-7578
    Seattle 206-553-5835

  9. Is there one central place I will be able to check on the potential release date for a product? If so, where?

    Beginning with the release of the Redistricting Data (P.L. 94-171), a special redistricting page https://www.census.gov/rdo/ will have links to explanatory information on the Census Bureau’s redistricting program; the computer mapping files and map images used in support of redistricting; the detailed redistricting data in American Factfinder; the news releases and attached custom tables; a tentative weekly schedule for release of states; the ftp files; and other related pages. We expect to maintain this site with product information throughout the release of state files.

  10. May I place a standing order for all the products for my state? If so, is there any advantage (e.g., $$ savings) for me?

    We are not prepared to take a standing order for all the products for any of the states. However, once the total number of CD-ROM’s and DVD’s is known for a state and we will offer this option. Generally, the savings will run about $20 per CD-ROM or DVD.

    Census 2000 CD-ROM/DVD’s have proprietary software and format, although the data can be exported to commercial spreadsheet or database software. The CD-ROM/DVD’s can be ordered from the Census Bureau’s Customer Services Center (301-763-INFO(4636)). They offer express service for an additional $25 per order; credit card orders placed before 2 p.m., are delivered the following day, provided the CD-ROM/DVD is in stock. Standard orders of in-stock items are delivered in 3-5 working days.

  11. On what media will you be releasing data?

    The standard release is on the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder website http://factfinder.census.gov. However, we will also release our data on CD-ROM. For selected products, we will also release on DVD. Some of the state publications (like 1990) will also be released in printed form through GPO.

  12. When should I use the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder website http://factfinder.census.gov and when should I use another media?

    Generally, use the American FactFinder when you need immediate information in short, standard formats. However, if you intend to use large data files on a frequent basis, order your own CD-ROMs or DVDs at our Customer Services Center (301- 457- 4100). These data are available on the American FactFinder (AFF) on the Internet. Users wishing to retrieve only a selection of tables (such as Quick Tables or Geographic Comparison Tables) or maps from this large data file will appreciate the ease of access, functionality and flexibility of the Bureau’s American FactFinder, available to users worldwide via the Internet. However, users wishing to acquire complete data sets will appreciate the speed, reliability and easy handling of DVDs and CD-ROMs. The users who need multiple tables for many layers of geography should consider using CD-ROMs or DVDs. For downloading large data files, the Census Bureau recommends the use of CD-ROMs or DVDs for both the convenience and access provided with the delivery of data on CD-ROM or DVD.

  13. Will the data be available on all media at the same time?

    No, the products will usually appear first on the Census Bureau’s "American FactFinder" website http://factfinder.census.gov, for the public. However, we are committed to getting your own CD-ROM or DVD copies to you by manufacturing many of the products in-house. This should avoid standard delays we experienced in the past when the products were manufactured outside the agency.

  14. Where may I go to receive the most recent information about re-releases of data?

    Subscribe to the Census Product Update. To subscribe, go to http://ask.census.gov/cgi-bin/askcensus.cfg/php/enduser/doc_serve.php?2=CPUForm.

  15. Is there a place to go to determine if I have the most recent information on the Census Bureau’s "American FactFinder" website http://factfinder.census.gov, assuming that I downloaded/etc. my data a month or two months ago? If so, where and how?

    All new data in the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder website http://factfinder.census.gov will be noted on the first screen in American FactFinder at "What’s New" on the left side of the screen.

  16. Is there a place to go to determine if my CD/DVD/etc. is the most recent one released? If so, where?

    Yes, go to the Internet at www.census.gov. Find your product in the Product Catalog. Compare the release (re-release) date to the date stamped on your CD-ROM or DVD. In the event that there is a re-release of a product, the Customer Services Center will send you the new release at no charge to you.

  17. Can our organization schedule someone from the Census Bureau to come to one of our meetings or conference to speak or do a more in depth workshop or presentation on Census Bureau topics?

    Yes. The Census Bureau has twelve regional offices around the country ready to come to your organization to fill your data needs. Some of the workshops offered are:

    "Availability of Census Data"; "How to Find the Data You Need"; "How Small Business Can Profit from Information"; "Census on the Net - Using American FactFinder"; or "Using Economic Statistics". Other special topics include aging, women, Hispanics in the U.S. and many others. Please call the regional office nearest you and discuss your data needs with the specialists:

    Atlanta 404-730-3833
    Boston 617-424-0510
    Charlotte 704-344-6144
    Chicago 312-353-9747
    Dallas 214-655-3050
    Denver 303-969-7750
    Detroit 313-259-1875
    Kansas City 913-551-6711
    Los Angeles 818-904-6339
    New York 212-264-4730
    Philadelphia 215-656-7578
    Seattle 206-553-5835

  18. When will data from the census be available?

    For data products required by law [Title 13, United States Code], we will deliver the products on or before the specified dates. These data products include delivery of the state population counts to the President within nine months of Census Day (on or before December 31, 2000). These counts are used to reapportion the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    Under the Voting Rights Act, the Census Bureau is required to provide the states with race and ethnic data for small geographic areas to be used for the redistricting process specified in Public Law 94-171 by April 1, 2001. After discussing and consulting with stakeholders and advisors, including the Department of Justice, the Census Bureau has decided to meet the needs of redistricting by providing the sixty-three categories of race in combination with Hispanic/Latino categories tabulated for both total population and people of eighteen years of age or over.

    Other products will be released on a flow basis from June, 2001, through September, 2003. Please see our Release Schedule of Products

  19. How will data from Census 2000 be made available?

    Census 2000 data will be disseminated mainly using a new data retrieval system called the American FactFinder (AFF). Census 2000 data products will be available on a flow basis beginning January 2001. The American FactFinder will be accessible to the widest possible array of users through the Internet, through intermediaries, including the nearly 1,800 State Data Centers and affiliates, the 1,400 Federal Depository libraries and other libraries, universities, and private organizations.

    The American FactFinder will find and retrieve the information needed at the geography of choice from some of the largest census databases. The American FactFinder is accessible directly from the Census Bureau’s new website.

    Census 2000 will offer five categories of products:

    Demographic Profiles for both 100 percent and sample data (Internet; CD-ROM; print); and Congressional District Demographic Profiles, for both 100 percent and sample data (AFF; CD-ROM; print by special request).
    Printed Reports
    Printed reports are: Demographic Profiles and Table Shells (AFF; CD-ROM; print) PHC1, PHC2, PH-3
    Electronic Files
    Redistricting Data Public Law 94-171 Summary File (AFF; CD-ROM; print by special request); SF1 (AFF; CD-ROM;)
    SF2; SF3; SF4
    Congressional District Summary Files (Internet: CD-ROM)
    Quick Tables and Geographic Comparison Tables
    (AFF; some CD-ROM; some in print).
    Microdata Files
    Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) 1% and 5% Files (CD-ROM) Full microdata tabulations (Internet).

  20. What Hispanic origin data will be available?

    The Census Bureau is in the process of planning data products for Census 2000. Most of our products will be released through the American FactFinder. We are in the process of identifying the content and presentation of these data. Generally, we plan to release some of the data products that were available in the 1990 census.

    The release of special reports will depend on internal and external funding. We plan to seek outside money from stakeholders that wish us to focus on a particular population group and/or issue.

  21. What kind of data will the Census Bureau provide on people without conventional housing?

    For Census 2000, the Census Bureau will produce only one category showing the number of persons tabulated at "Emergency and transitional shelters." People enumerated at shelters for abused women (shelters against domestic violence or family crisis centers), soup kitchens, regularly scheduled mobile food vans, and targeted nonsheltered outdoor locations will be tabulated into the category "Other noninstitutional group quarters population." The category will include people enumerated at:

    * Shelters with sleeping facilities, low-cost hotels and motels, and hotels/motels used by cities to house the homeless regardless of cost.

  22. How did we collect information on people without conventional housing?

    An operation called Service-Based Enumeration (SBE) was designed to provide people with no usual residence, who might not be included through other enumeration methods, an opportunity to be enumerated. Additionally, people with no usual residence will be able to pick up Be Counted questionnaires at selected non-SBE service locations, such as travelers’ aid centers and health care clinics.

  23. Did Census 2000 count Americans overseas?

    For Census 2000 the Census Bureau included overseas counts in the census using definitions and procedures similar to those used in 1990. U. S. military and federal civilian personnel stationed overseas and their dependents living with them were included in the overseas population counts and the Census 2000 apportionment counts. Included in these counts were members of the U.S. Armed Forces on military vessels assigned to a home port in a foreign country and their dependents overseas with them. Private U.S. citizens living abroad were not included in the overseas counts in Census 2000.

    Overseas counts by home state were provided by departments and agencies of the federal government from their administrative records. These counts were used solely for reapportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The data will not provide the sub-state geographical precision required to conduct Congressional redistricting.

  24. Were people of mixed racial or ethnic heritage be able to identify themselves on the form?

    Yes. In October 1997 the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued revised federal standards for collecting and presenting data on race and ethnicity. Among other changes, the standards allow respondents when answering the race question option to "mark or select one or more races." The OMB made this modification after considering recommendations from its Interagency Committee for the Review of Racial and Ethnic Standards, information obtained through public hearings and other sources of public opinion, and test results from the Census Bureau and other federal agencies.

  25. If respondents are allowed to mark more than one racial category, how will that affect response and reporting of race?

    In the 1996 Census Survey, the Census Bureau tested revisions to the questionnaire that would allow multiple responses to the race question. There was no evidence that any of these experimental treatments had a negative effect on the final mail response rates. Also, we do not expect the instruction "mark one or more" to significantly affect reporting of race, because fewer than two percent of respondents in recent tests used this option.

  26. How should Hispanics have answered the race question?

    People of Hispanic origin may be of any race and should have answered the question on race by marking one or more race categories shown on the questionnaire, including White, Black or African American, American Indian and Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, and Some Other Race. Hispanics should have indicated their origin in the Hispanic origin question, not in the race question because in federal statistical systems ethnic origin was considered to be a separate concept from race.

II. Conducting a Census

  1. What did the Census Bureau do to promote Census 2000?

    The Census 2000 Partnership and Marketing Program was a multi-faceted effort to remind the general population about the census, educate those members of the public who do not understand the purpose of the census and its significance to their communities, and motivate them to complete their census questionnaires. The Census Bureau recognizes that different segments of the population respond in different ways and with different levels of trust and willingness to participate in the census. The Partnership and Marketing Program incorporates five components designed to reach these populations in the manner most appropriate to each. Together, these components provide many vehicles to reach people many times - in the places where they live, work, go to school, and play.

    The five components of the Partnership and Marketing Program were:

    Examples of the many opportunities for partners’ participation in the census included having local governments participate in the compilation of address lists; sponsored workshops, conferences, speaker bureaus, and community meetings; developing and distributed materials to constituents/clients/members endorsing the census and explained the importance of participating; generating positive media coverage about the census; recruiting community members to work as address listers, enumerators, and Questionnaire Assistance staff; donated space, such as space for training and Questionnaire Assistance Centers; and provided advice and support to the Census Bureau on the development of data collection strategies, particularly with regard to hard-to-enumerate populations.

  2. Why don’t you have a lottery to increase cooperation with the census?

    After the 1990 census, the Census Bureau appointed a Sweepstakes Committee to investigate the issues and questions of using a sweepstakes to increase participation in the census. After consideration of legal and other issues relating to this approach and meeting with representatives of a corporation involved with sweepstakes, the Committee made its recommendation that we should not proceed with research and development on this concept.

  3. What type of automation was incorporated in Census 2000?

    The major features of automation for Census 2000 include data capture methodology that accommodated the use of respondent-friendly questionnaires. The Census Bureau has identified components of the data capture process that may be best performed by private-sector partners although it did not limit itself to creating in-house solutions. The Census Bureau took advantage of available commercial off-the-shelf hardware and software representing advancements in information technology and systems.

    The Census Bureau operated the National Processing Center and worked with contractors who operated three processing centers responsible for data capture functions including:

  4. How does the Census Bureau plan to use sampling now that the Supreme Court has prohibited its use?

    On January 25, 1999, the Supreme Court upheld 195, Title 13, United States Code, prohibiting the Census Bureau from using statistical sampling to determine the population count for congressional apportionment purposes (No. 98-564, Clinton, President of the United States, et al. v. Glavin et al., on appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia).

    Though the Court’s decision does affect the way in which the Census Bureau uses sampling to collect additional information, the Census Bureau used a sampling ratio of about one long form (sample) questionnaire for every six households to obtain sample data on content as it has in previous censuses. We plan to include sample questions on place of birth, work status last year, income, ancestry, monthly rent, veteran status, disability, plumbing and kitchen facilities, and others. This sample for content provides the necessary data to produce a wide array of information redistricting data was based on 100% data only and on demographic social and economic characteristics of the population as well as the physical and financial characteristics of the housing inventory.

  5. What were some of the important milestone dates for conducting the census?

    3/6/00 3/31/00 Mail Delivery The mail delivery strategy included an advance letter, questionnaire mailout, and a reminder card for nonrespondents (the reminder card was sent to all on the mailing out list -- as a thank you card to those that have responded and to those who have not yet responded).
    3/3/00 3/30/00 Update/Leave This was conducted in areas with predominately non-city-style addresses. Census workers delivered the questionnaires to housing units and at the same time updated their list of addresses of the units in their assignment area.
    1/31/00 5/1/00 List/Enumeration (Including Alaska) Enumerators visited each household in very remote or very sparsely populated areas (e.g. remote Alaska). Census maps were updated, interviews conducted, and each address/location was listed.
    3/3/00 6/08/00 Telephone Questionnaire Assistance (TQA) A toll-free telephone service was provided by a commercial phone center to provide respondents assistance completing their Census 2000 questionnaires. Assistance was be available in several languages.
    4/27/00 6/26/00 Nonresponse Followup (NRFU) Enumerators begin follow-up on addresses for which we have not received a completed questionnaire.
    7/27/00 8/24/00 Coverage Improvement Followup The purpose of this operation was to improve coverage of persons in housing units potentially classified in error during NRFU. Census staff re-visited these addresses, determined the status of the address as of Census Day.
    3/7/00 8/24/00 Data Capture The operation to convert the responses on the census questionnaires into computer processed data.
    12/31/00 12/31/00 Delivery of Apportionment Data By legal mandate, apportionment data was delivered to the President of the United States.
    2/12/01 3/31/01 Redistricting Data Complete the release of redistricting data to the states.

  6. What did the Census Bureau do to provide non-English language assistance?

    Those households who received the census form in the mail had the option of requesting the questionnaire in Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, or Korean. Those individuals or households who believed that they were not included on a form or did not receive a form can use the Be Counted questionnaires that were available in public areas. The Be Counted forms were printed in English, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Korean.

    The Census Bureau also launched the Census 2000 Language Program. The goal was to provide census information and to overcome language barriers that might prevent any individual from full participation in the decennial census. Census 2000 Language Assistance Guides used visual aids to assist respondents completing the Census 2000 mail/out/back questionnaires. There was one short form and long form guide in each of the following languages:

    Census 2000 Languages for Language Assistance Guides
    Albanian Dinka Korean Swahili
    Amharic Dutch Kurdish Tagalog
    Arabic Farsi Lao Thai
    Armenian French Polish Tibetan
    Bengali German Portuguese Tigrinya
    Burmese Greek Romani Tongan
    Cambodian Hebrew Romanian Ukrainian
    Chamorro Hindi Russian Urdu
    Chinese Hmong Samoan Vietnamese
    Creole Hungarian Serbian (Serbo-Croatian) Yiddish
    Croatian (Serbo-Croatian) Ilocano Slovak  
    Czech Italian Somali  
    Dari Japanese Spanish  

  7. Were there differences in the ways you counted big cities and small rural towns?

    Improving our address list was a key element in making sure we reached people everywhere in the U.S. Partnerships with local governments and American Indian tribal officials was the first step in making sure our address list was as accurate as possible. Every address received a letter in advance of the census, the questionnaire, and a thank you/reminder card, but the way these items were delivered varied between big cities and rural areas.

    In places where street addresses are used for mail delivery by the U.S. Postal Service, we mailed the questionnaire to the residence. In rural areas where rural route/box number, post office box, and/or general delivery addresses are used, enumerators canvassed each block before the census to create an address list of all living quarters. At the time of the census, enumerators delivered questionnaires to each address and check the address list again to ensure that it includes every housing unit.

  8. Why were the address list and maps so important for Census 2000?

    The address list and related maps are the foundation of a complete and accurate census. Some of the people not counted in the 1990 census were missed because the Census Bureau did not know their housing units existed. A complete address list will ensure that Census 2000 will be accurate. Up-to-date maps helped the Census Bureau verify where each housing unit was located.

  9. Can the local or tribal government use the address list for other purposes?

    The only purpose for which this address list can be used is to conduct Census 2000 and other Census Bureau programs. Only individuals who agree, under oath, to keep the address information confidential may review the address list.

    By law (Title 13, United States Code), the Census Bureau cannot share the individual answers it receives with others, including welfare agencies, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Internal Revenue Service, courts, or police. The military personnel who help with the census on-base are sworn to protect the confidentiality of your answers. Anyone who breaks this law can receive up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 in fines. The law works - millions of questionnaires were processed during the 1990s without any breach of trust.

  10. Will the Census Bureau provide funds to support local or tribal address lists and map review activities?

    The Census Bureau has no funding to reimburse local or tribal governments for money or staff time they spend on address list and map review activities. This was a partnership program. The participating government agrees to review and update these materials. Better maps and a better address list lead to a better census, which will assure that local and tribal governments receive their full allocation of federal funding based on population.

    Participating governments should contact their Census Bureau regional offices by electronic mail or telephone with any questions. The Census Bureau established a help desk for localities with computer readable files. The Census Bureau has offered regional planning agencies and the State Data Centers the opportunity to assist the Census Bureau in implementing the program.

III. Participation in the Census

  1. Why should people fill out their census forms?

    Participating in the census is in the individuals’ own self interest. People who answer the census help their communities obtain federal and state funding and valuable information for planning schools, hospitals, roads, and more. For example, census information helps decision makers understand which neighborhoods need new schools and which ones need greater services for the elderly. But they will not be able to tell what your neighborhood needs if you do not fill out your census form.

  2. How is the privacy of respondents protected?

    The numbers we publish are combined with thousands of answers from people in your neighborhood and across the country. No one, except sworn Census Bureau employees, can see your questionnaire or link your name with your responses. In fact, the law provides severe penalties for any census employee that makes your answers known. (Detailed Information)

IV. The Census Questionnaire

  1. Why did the census form have room for only six people?

    The Census Bureau decided to adopt a six-person questionnaire for Census 2000, which would apply to both the short and long-form questionnaires. Planning estimates put the number of mailback households with seven or more persons at slightly more than one million households versus about four million households with six or more persons.

    Respondents with more than six person households can record the names of the other people on the last page of the D-1 or D-1 (UL) form. The Census Bureau checks this page for names and called the household two to three weeks later and ask for the census information for those people.

  2. Why do census forms have so many questions?

    Every question in Census 2000 was required by law to manage or evaluate federal programs or was needed to meet legal requirements stemming from U.S. court decisions such as the Voting Rights Act. In addition, the data collected by them is as much a part of our Nation’s infrastructure as highways and telephone lines. Federal dollars supporting schools, employment services, housing assistance, highway construction, hospital services, programs for the elderly, and more are distributed based on census data.

  3. How much money is distributed by the federal government based on the census?

    Twenty-two of the 25 largest Federal funding grant programs of fiscal year 1998 are responsible for $162 billion being distributed to state, local, and tribal governments, and about half of this money was distributed using formulas involving census population data, according to a report by the General Accounting Office. We expect that at least $182 billion and housing will be distributed annually based on formulas using Census 2000 data.

  4. Why does the Census need to know about race?

    Race is key to implementing any number of federal programs and it is critical for the basic research behind numerous policy decisions. States require these data to meet legislative redistricting requirements. Also, they are needed to monitor compliance with the Voting Rights Act by local jurisdictions. Race data are required by federal programs that promote equal employment opportunity and to assess racial disparities in health and environmental risks. The Census Bureau has included a question on race since the first census in 1790.

  5. Why does the Census Bureau collect information on Hispanic origin?

    The 1970 decennial census was the first to have a question on Hispanic origin on the sample or "long" census form. Since 1980, this question has appeared on the 100 percent or "short" form. Hispanic origin data are needed for the implementation of a number of federal statutes such as the enforcement of bilingual election rules under the Voting Rights Act and the monitoring and enforcement of equal employment opportunities under the Civil Rights Act. Additionally, information on people of Hispanic origin is needed by local governments to run programs and meet legislative requirements at the community level. For example, these data are used to help identify segments of the population who may not be receiving medical services under the Public Health Act or to evaluate whether financial institutions are meeting credit needs of minority populations under the Community Reinvestment Act.

  6. What questions are on the census forms? (Follow the links to detailed information.)

    The following questions were on the short form (100%) questionnaire that everyone receives: Tenure (whether a housing unit is owned or rented), name, sex, age, relationship to householder, Hispanic origin, and Race. The long form (sample) questionnaire, which goes to an average of one in six households, has the short form questions plus additional questions on the following subjects:

    Social characteristics of the population: marital status, place of birth/citizenship/year of entry, education-school enrollment/educational attainment, ancestry, residence 5 years ago (migration), language spoken at home, veteran status, disability, grandparents as caregivers.

    Economic characteristics of the population: labor force status (current), place of work and journey to work, work status last year, industry/occupation/class of worker, income (previous year).

    Physical characteristics of housing: units in structure, number of rooms, number of bedrooms, plumbing and kitchen facilities, year structure built, year moved into unit, house heating fuel, telephone, vehicles available, farm residence.

    Financial characteristics of housing: value of home, monthly rent, shelter costs (selected monthly owner costs).

  7. How much does it cost to obtain the long form (sample) data?

    The long form is a cost effective tool for gathering information needed to evaluate and implement federal and state programs. In 1990, the long form added only 11 to 19 percent to the total cost of the census, according to a National Academy of Sciences panel.

    (Source: Modernizing the U.S. Census, Barry Edmonston and Charles Schultze, p. 117, National Academy Press, 1995.)

  8. Does the long form questionnaire decrease the response rate?

    Before 1940, everyone had to answer all the questions that the census collected. The long form questions - asked only of a sample of households - was introduced as a way to collect more data, more rapidly, without increasing respondent burden.

    The National Academy of Science’s Panel on Census Requirements in the Year 2000 and Beyond looked at the question of whether the long form discourages participation in the census. They found that the difference in mail return rates between the long and short forms in 1990 reduced the overall mail return rate by less than one percentage point.

  9. Why do you have one question on race and another question on Hispanic origin?

    On October 30, 1997, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued "Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity." All federal agencies, including the Census Bureau, who collect and report data on race and ethnicity must follow these standards. Race and ethnicity are considered to be two separate and distinct concepts in this standard, and OMB accepted the Interagency Committee for the Review of the Racial and Ethnic Standards recommendation that two separate questions -- one for race and one for ethnicity or Hispanic origin -- be used whenever feasible to provide flexibility and ensure data quality.

  10. Does the Census Bureau collect data on Hispanic subgroups other than Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban?

    Yes. In Census 2000, like in the 1990 census, the Hispanic origin question has a write-in line which is used to obtain write-in responses of Hispanic subgroups other than the major groups of Mexican, Cuban, and Puerto Ricans. Persons with other Hispanic origins such as Salvadoran, Nicaraguan, Argentinean, and so on, were able to write in their specific origin group. In fact, the Census Bureau’s code list contains over 30 Hispanic or Latino subgroups. For Census 2000, maximum detail on Hispanic subgroups will be made available in micro data files while data products containing tabulations will report less detail information.

  11. How does the layout of the race question correspond to the changes in the classification of race as directed by OMB?

    The question on race for Census 2000 has been modified to be consistent with the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) revised standards for collecting and tabulating data on race and ethnicity. First, the instructions on race now read "Mark [X] one or more races to indicate what this person considers himself/herself to be." Second, three separate response identifiers (Indian (Amer.), Eskimo, and Aleut) used in the 1990 Census are combined into one response category--American Indian or Alaska Native--for Census 2000. Third, the Asian and Pacific Islander groups listed in two columns under the spanner "Asian or Pacific Islande" on the 1990 Census questionnaire are now grouped into two separate categories: 1) Asian and 2) Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. The detailed Asian groups are listed alphabetically in the first two columns and the detailed Pacific Islander groups are listed in the third column alphabetically after the Native Hawaiian response category. Fourth, in 1990 there were two write-in areas: one for Indian (Amer.) and a shared area for Other Asian and Pacific Islander (Other API) and Other Race. For Census 2000, there are three write-in areas for people to provide more detailed information on an American Indian or Alaska Native tribe, an Other Asian group, an Other Pacific Islander group, or Some Other Race. On this form, the write-in area for an Other Asian group and for an Other Pacific Islander group is shared.

  12. Why were some questions on the 1990 form deleted from the 2000?

    Deciding which subjects to include was an interactive process involving the Census Bureau, the Office of Management and Budget, and the U.S. Congress. To balance concerns about the intrusiveness of the decennial census, the many requirements placed on federal agencies, and the needs of state, local, and tribal governments to manage programs, only those subjects that had specific federal legislative justification were recommended for Census 2000.

  13. Why were some of the questions on the 1990 short form moved to the Census 2000 long form?

    For Census 2000, the Census Bureau has proposed subjects on the short form only when data are both needed in response to legislative requirements and required at the block level - the smallest level of geography for which we report information. Therefore, we moved five subjects that were asked of every housing unit in 1990 to the long form, which went out to a sample of housing units in 2000. These subjects include marital status, units in structure, number of rooms, value of home, and monthly rent.

  14. Why did you add questions to the Census 2000 form that were not in the 1990 Census?

    Only one new subject was added to the Census 2000 questionnaire: grandparents as caregivers. This addition complies with legislation passed by the 104th Congress requiring that the decennial census obtain information about grandparents who have primary responsibility for care of grandchildren (Title 13, United States Code, Chapter 5, Section 141).

  15. What have you done to make it easier to fill out the form?

    The Census Bureau has been working with private sector designers to produce forms that are easy to read and understand, simple to fill out and mail back, and help people understand the importance of answering the census. Some of the user-friendly features include the following:

  16. What were the specific differences in Census 2000 and the 1990 Census?

    Although there are many aspects of Census 2000 that are different from the 1990 Census, the key differences were

  17. How long does it take to complete the forms?

    Compared with 1990, there was a significant improvement in the estimated time required to complete both the short and long forms. In 1990, it was estimated to take 14 minutes to complete the short form and 43 minutes to complete the long form. For Census 2000, it only took about 10 minutes to complete the short form and 38 minutes for the long form.

  18. Isn’t there an easier way that would take less time and money, such as use of public records or private companies, to compile the population figures?

    No other government agency has information on every person in the United States. And no private company is equipped to bring on the number of temporary workers needed to take the census. Some people think that the Postal Service ought to do the census. The Postal Service delivers all the questionnaires that are mailed to individual addresses and picks up and returns the bulk of them. But we still need to hire temporary workers to visit those households that do not mail back a questionnaire. The key job for postal workers is to assist the U.S. Census in developing the address list and to locate mailboxes. Right now, the best way for American taxpayers to save money on the census is to fill out and mail back their census questionnaire.

V. About the Census Bureau

  1. What does the Census Bureau do between censuses?

    The decennial census is well known because it is a national event that involves everyone. However, the Census Bureau conducts numerous other censuses and surveys for government, private entities, and individuals as well as tabulating the decennial data and publishing the tables and data. These activities include the planning, preparation, conducting, and publishing of data for numerous economic and demographic surveys and censuses, such as the Census of Manufactures, American Housing Survey, Consumer Expenditure Survey; 1997 Economic Census: Numerical List of Manufactured & Mining Products; Survey of Income and Program Participation; U.S. Merchandise Trade: Exports, General Imports, and Imports for Consumption; Manufacturers’ Shipments, Inventories, and Orders to list just a few.