What is the U.S. census?
The 2020 U.S. census count started in January. As mandated by the U.S. Constitution, once a decade, the census is taken to count all citizens and non-citizens in the country. The current census is counting a diverse population of approximately 330 million people in more than 140 million accommodations. Every household in the nation is asked to answer a short series of questions. They ask things like how many people live or stay in the household, and what the age, sex, and race of each person is.
Getting a complete and accurate count of the U.S. population is vitally important. An accurate count enables fair political representation. That is because the collected-data determines the process of apportionment, which determines the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives. The census also plays a crucial role in many areas of public life and the amount of money allocated to states and other programs.
How is the data used?
In addition to determining the number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, the census is used to determine the way billions of dollars in federal funds are distributed to local communities. The data collected is also used for critical applications, such as:
- Civil rights enforcement.
- Post-Census population estimates and projections.
- Business applications.
- Community planning.
- Providing weights for sample surveys.
- Providing denominators for rates.
What questions are in the 2020 census?
The majority of questions in the 2020 census are similar to questions asked in previous census counts. As well as asking for details like your name, race, and date of birth, the census will ask for:
- The number of people living or staying in your home.
- Whether the home is owned or rented.
- What the relationship is between the household members.
Notable changes in the 2020 census include new write-in areas for the question of race for non-Hispanics who identify as white or black. There are also new categories concerning relationships. Couples who live together can identify their relationships as either same-sex or opposite-sex.
How does the census benefit you and your community?
The census is important because it provides many benefits to the local community. Your local government uses the data for public safety and preparation for emergencies. Businesses use census data to determine where to build stores, factories, and offices, which bring more jobs to your local area. Developers also use the data to build new homes and revitalize old neighborhoods. Furthermore, the data can be used to support community initiatives that involve legislation, consumer advocacy, and quality of life. Funding that is given to states, counties, and communities is based upon population totals and breakdowns of those figures for age, race, sex, and other factors. The funds received are spent on things like hospitals, schools, roads, effective transportation, and better sanitation.
When will the 2020 census results be released?
The new U.S. population count is expected to be announced by the Census Bureau by the end of 2020. The data used for state and local redistricting is set to be released by the end of March 2021. Other census data is expected to be released in the spring of 2021.