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About Population

The U.S. Census Bureau is the leading source of statistical information about the nation’s people. Subjects include groups such as children, veterans, and the foreign-born, and characteristics such as age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, migration, ancestry, and language use, as well as health, education, employment, income and poverty.

Federal, state, and local governments, along with businesses, universities, international organizations, and researchers, use the Census Bureau’s population statistics for funding allocations, to inform policy, and to aid in city planning. The public uses these statistics to learn more about their community, the United States, and the world.

Our population statistics come from decennial censuses, annual surveys such as the American Community Survey (ACS) and the Current Population Survey (CPS), and the periodic Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). In addition, the Census Bureau produces Population Estimates and Population Projections.

Since 1950, the Census Bureau has performed international analytical work and assisted in the collection, processing, analysis, dissemination, and use of statistics with governments in over 100 countries and areas. Population estimates and projections for all countries and areas of the world with a population of 5,000 or more are published in the International Database.  Subnational data and maps are available for many countries.


  • Age and Sex: Understanding a population’s age and sex composition yields insights into changing phenomena and highlights future social and economic challenges.
  • Ancestry: Ancestry refers to one’s ethnic origin or descent, "roots," or heritage, or the place of birth of the person or the person’s parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States. Ethnic identities may or may not represent geographic areas.
  • Business Owners: Businesses are categorized by the owner's sex, ethnicity, race, and veteran status. Firms not classifiable by sex, ethnicity, race, and veteran status include: publicly-held, foreign-owned, and not-for-profit companies.
  • Children: All Census Bureau demographic surveys collect information about children. The information collected varies.
  • Foreign Born: The foreign-born population includes anyone who is not a U.S. citizen at birth, including those who become U.S. citizens through naturalization. The native-born population includes anyone who is a U.S. citizen at birth.
  • Hispanic Origin: Hispanic origin can be viewed as the heritage, nationality, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person’s parents or ancestors before arriving in the United States. People who identify as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be any race.
  • International: The Census Bureau conducts demographic, economic, and geographic studies of other countries and strengthens statistical development around the world through technical assistance, training, and software products.
  • Language Use: English is the language spoken by most people in the United States and is the language used in most governmental functions. The Census Bureau collects data on language use to count the population speaking other languages who might be helped with translation services, education, or assistance in accessing government services.
  • Migration/Geographic Mobility: Migration and geographic mobility both refer to the movement of people from one location to another. Whereas migration typically refers to moves that cross a boundary, such as a county or state, mobility includes both short and long-distance moves.
  • Population Estimates: The Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program produces estimates of the population for the United States, its states, counties, cities, and towns, as well as for Puerto Rico and its municipios. Demographic components of population change (births, deaths, and migration) are produced at the national, state, and county level.
  • Population Projections: Population projections are estimates of the population for future dates. They are typically based on an estimated population consistent with the most recent decennial census and are produced using the cohort-component method. Projections illustrate possible courses of population change based on assumptions about future births, deaths, net international migration, and domestic migration.
  • Race: The Census Bureau collects race data according to U.S. Office of Management and Budget guidelines, and these data are based on self-identification. People may choose to report more than one race group. People of any race may be of any ethnic origin.
  • Veterans: Demographic, social, and economic data on veterans are collected on several Census Bureau surveys. These data are used for policy analysis, program planning, and budgeting of veteran programs.

Contact Us

For assistance, please contact the Census Call Center at 1-800-923-8282 (toll free) or visit ask.census.gov for further information.

Page Last Revised - February 9, 2022
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