The framers of the Constitution of the United States chose population to be the basis for sharing political power, not wealth or land.
“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers…”
- The Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 2.
The census asks questions of people in homes and group living situations, including how many people live or stay in each home, and the sex, age and race of each person. The goal is to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place.
Apportionment is the process of dividing the 435 memberships, or seats, in the U.S. House of Representatives among the 50 states, based on the state population counts that result from each decennial census. These results determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next 10 years.
The results are also used to adjust or redraw electoral districts based on where populations have increased or decreased.
State legislatures or redistricting commissions are primarily responsible for redrawing congressional and state legislative districts. The U.S. Census Bureau provides states with population counts for this purpose.
The results of the census help determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding, including grants and support to states, counties and communities are spent every year for the next decade. It helps communities get its fair share for schools, hospitals, roads, and public works. That funding shapes many different aspects of every community, no matter the size, no matter the location. These funds are based on population totals and breakdowns by sex, age, race and other factors. Your community benefits the most when the census counts everyone.
The results also inform how federal funding is allocated to more than 100 programs, including Medicaid, Head Start, block grant programs for community mental health services, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP.
Curious about what other programs are affected by census data? Download this report to see a full list.
The 2020 Census will be valuable to businesses, as the results will provide a rich set of data on the communities they serve, including population trends and growth projections.
Business owners rely on census results to make decisions, such as where to open new stores, restaurants, factories, and offices; where to expand operations; where to recruit employees; and which products and services to offer.
You have free access to decades of census data about your community. Use our interactive data tools to find useful stats about your city, county, state, and nation.