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The Census: A snapshot
What: The census is a count of everyone residing in the United States. With 10 questions, households are asked to provide key demographic information, including whether a housing unit is rented or owned, address of the residence and names, genders, ages and races of others living in the household.
Who: All U.S. residents must be counted — both citizens and non-citizens.
When: Questionnaires will be received in March by mail or hand delivery. Some people in remote areas will be counted in person.
How: Households should complete and mail back their questionnaires upon receipt. Households that do not respond may receive a replacement questionnaire in early April. Census takers will visit households that do not return questionnaires to take a count in person.
Census Key Dates
• February-March 2010- Census questionnaires are mailed or delivered to households.
• April 1- Census Day (Information provided on the 2010 Census questionnaire should represent the respective household as it exists on this day.
• May-July 2010 - Census takers visit households that did not return a questionnaire by mail.
• Dec. 31, 2010- By law, the Census Bureau delivers population counts to the president.
• March 2011- By law, the Census Bureau completes delivery of redistricting data to states.
• The first U.S. Census took place in 1790 to determine the number of seats each state would have in the U.S. House of Representatives. The census also was created to gain a better understanding of where people lived and to establish patterns of settlement as the nation grew.
The Importance of the Census Data
• Every year, the federal government allocates more than $400 billion to states and communities based, in part, on census data.
• Census data are used to determine locations for retail stores, schools, hospitals, new housing developments and other community facilities.
• Census data determine boundaries for state and local legislative and congressional districts.