Every 10 years, the federal government conducts a population count of everyone in the United States, this is known as the decennial census. It’s mandated by the Constitution, and the U.S. has counted its population every 10 years since 1790. Data from the census provides the basis for distributing more than $675 billion in federal funds annually to communities across the country to support vital programs—impacting housing, education, transportation, employment, health care, and public policy. They also are used to redraw the boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts and accurately determine the number of congressional seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Responding to the census is not only your civic duty; it also affects the amount of funding your community receives, how your community plans for the future, and your representation in government. Specifically, data from the 2020 Census are used to:

  • Ensure public services and funding for schools, hospitals, and fire departments.
  • Plan new homes and businesses and improve neighborhoods.
  • Determine how many seats your state is allocated in the House of Representatives.

The next census will take place in 2020. Beginning in mid- March, people will receive a notice in the mail to complete the 2020 Census. Once you receive it, you can respond online. In May, the U.S. Census Bureau will begin following up in person with households that haven’t responded to the census.

To learn more about what questions will be asked, how to respond, and issues surrounding privacy and security, go to 2020census.gov.