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2020 U.S. Census

Census Benefits

Who Benefits from the Census?

Demographics change over the years and the census is the only actual count of the total population living in the United States. The framers of the US Constitution anticipated that a robust democracy is based on an accurate population count. A correct count is especially important for vulnerable population groups, as the distribution of federal resources is allocated based on the census data.

A 2018 Census Bureau survey revealed that only 45% of respondents knew that census data is used to determine public funding for their communities. Just over 40% of survey respondents did not feel it makes a difference whether they are personally counted, and young people ages 18 to 34 were the least likely to believe it matters. The results of the survey are used to build a better communication campaign reaching those who are reluctant to participate.

Federal Funding of Services for Communities

In the fiscal year 2015, census data were used to determine the allocation of $675 billion for 132 programs.

  • Census data impact our daily lives, because they are used to determine how billions of dollars in federal funds will be distributed to state and local governments. This includes funding for health care (Medicaid), infrastructure (Highway Planning and Construction), education (Head Start), food security (National School Lunch Program), and rural access to broadband and other services.
  • The Highway Planning and Construction program relies on updated Census population estimates to distribute funding for the National Highway system. Funds support planning, construction and maintenance of highways and bridges.
  • Business owners use census data to decide where to build factories, offices and stores. If someone wants to open a new restaurant, population statistics are a valuable resource to answer critical questions: How many potential customers live in the area? Who are potential competitors? Developers use the census to build new homes and revitalize old neighborhoods. 
  • Many 911 emergency systems are based on maps developed for the census. Census information helps health care providers predict the spread of diseases through communities with children or elderly people. And when disasters hit, rescuers rely on census data to see how many people will need their help.  Residents also use the census to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality-of-life and consumer advocacy.

Congressional Seats and Congressional Districts

Population data from the 2020 census directly impact political power in Congress and Presidential elections. The new data are used to determine how 435 congressional seats in the House will be apportioned in the next ten years. If the count is wrong, some states will get more seats than they should and others will get fewer. The Electoral College plays a decisive role in the Presidential election. The number of electors in the Electoral College allocated to each state depends on the size of a state's congressional delegation. 

Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia lost population through net domestic migration between 2018 and 2019 according to an analysis of Census Bureau Data. The top states with net domestic migration loss were California (-203,414), New York (-180,649), Illinois (-104,986), New Jersey (-48,946), Massachusetts (-30,274) and Louisiana (-26,045).

The reapportionment of seats is expected in December 2020, resulting in the lengthy process of each state redrawing congressional maps for the 2022 midterm elections. The redrawing of congressional maps is the period when some states may seek to manipulate map boundaries to benefit a particular political party - otherwise known as gerrymandering.

Shifts in Demographics

Census data also provide insight in demographics to learn more about a population's characteristics regarding age, migration, education and socioeconomic statusWith the aging of baby boomers older people are projected to outnumber children within a couple of decades for the first time in history. This development will have a tremendous economic impact and require changes in health care services, structure of pensions and social security as well as in the work force. The graphic representation "From Pyramid to Pillar" of the US population validates an immense shift in age-related demographics. 

 

                                                   

                                                                                                                              Source: US Census Bureau

Resources:

U.S. Census Bureau: Older People Projected to Outnumber Children for First Time in U.S. History, March 13, 2018