Census 101: What You Need to Know
The census is much more than just a head count. It provides a picture of our nation that helps determine where to build new schools, hospitals, and businesses; how federal funding is distributed; and how congressional seats are apportioned. It also helps us see how our communities have changed over time. That’s why an accurate count is so important. Get the details by viewing the Census 101 flyer or view the details below.
UNDERSTANDING THE CENSUS
Once every decade, the federal government conducts a census of the entire population to count everyone in the United States and record basic information about them. Our nation’s founders believed this data was so important that they mandated the decennial census in the Constitution.
Easy and Convenient
- In 2020, for the first time ever, the U.S. Census Bureau will accept responses online, but you can still respond by phone or mail if you prefer.
Confidential and Secure
- Strict federal law protects your census responses. It is against the law for any Census Bureau employee to disclose or publish any census information that identifies an individual or business. Census Bureau employees take a lifelong pledge of confidentiality to handle data responsibly and keep respondents’ information private. The penalty for wrongful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment for up to 5 years, or both. No law enforcement agency (not the DHS, ICE, FBI, or CIA) can access or use your personal information at any time. Data collected can only be used for statistical purposes that help inform important decisions, including how much federal funding your community receives.
- The Census Bureau will never ask for your Social Security number, bank or credit card account numbers, money or donations, or anything on behalf of a political party.
- The Census Bureau has a robust cybersecurity program that incorporates industry best practices and federal security standards for encrypting data.
To make sure you and your community are counted, learn more about the 2020 Census by visiting 2020census.gov.