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Census 101: What You Need to Know

The U.S. Constitution requires a census every ten years. The census covers the entire country and everyone living here. After each census, state officials use the results to redraw the boundaries of their congressional and state legislative districts, adapting to population shifts.

Once completed, the results of the census determine how more than $675 billion in federal funds are spent, supporting your state, county and community’s vital programs. Businesses use census data to decide where to build factories, offices and stores, which create jobs.

Local governments use the census for public safety and emergency preparedness projects like determining how to distribute personnel or where to locate storm sirens. Residents use the census to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality-of-life and consumer advocacy. Real estate developers use the census to identify areas to build new homes and revitalize old neighborhoods.

Federal law protects all census responses and answers can only be used to produce statistics. By law the government cannot share information with immigration enforcement agencies, law enforcement agencies, or allow it to be used to determine eligibility for government benefits. In 2020, you will be able to respond to the census online, by phone, or by mail.