Why Do We Take The Census?

The U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 2) mandates a headcount every 10 years of everyone residing in the 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the Island Areas of the United States. This includes people of all ages, races, ethnic groups, citizens, and noncitizens. The first census was conducted in 1790 and one has been conducted every 10 years since. The population totals from the census determine the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives. States also use the totals to redraw their legislative and school districts. The U.S. Census Bureau must submit state population totals to the President of the United States by December 31, 2020. The population totals also affect funding in your community, and data collected in the census help decision makers know how your community is changing. Approximately $675 billion in federal funding is distributed to communities each year.

When Should A Local Complete Count Committee Organize?

Get Organized now!  The immediate formation of a CCC will ensure that local households are kept abreast of the various census opera­tions before the information is nationally circulated. The more informed households are about the 2020 Census operations, the better their understanding of the census process becomes, thus increasing their willingness to be a part of the successful enumeration in 2020.

How Is Census Data Used?

Census data is used in many ways. Some examples include:

  • Distribution of more than $675 billion annually in federal funds back to tribal, state, and local governments.
  • Redistricting of state legislative districts.
  • Forecasting future transportation needs for all segments of the population.
  • Determining areas eligible for housing assistance and rehabilitation loans.
  • Assisting federal, tribal, state, and local governments in planning and implementing programs, services, and emergency response.
  • Designing facilities for people with disabilities, the elderly, and children.
What Agency Is Responsible For Taking The Census?

The U.S. Census Bureau is solely responsible for administration of the 2020 Census – including developing the questions on the census form, distributing the forms, collecting and tabulating the data and following up with households who do not respond. The State of Alabama has no direct role in the administration of the census count. However, Governor Ivey has designated the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs as the state’s liaison with the U.S. Census Bureau. Through Alabama Counts, ADECA is working closely with the Census Bureau’s local personnel to ensure that all Alabamians understand the importance of a full census count to the state and to encourage every Alabama household to fill out and turn in a 2020 census form.

What Are Complete Count Committees?

Complete Count Committees (CCC) are volunteer committees established by tribal, state, and local governments and community leaders or organizations to increase awareness and motivate residents to respond to the 2020 Census.  CCCs serve as state and local “census ambassador” groups that play an integral part in ensuring a complete and accurate count of the community in the 2020 Census. Success of the census depends on community involvement at every level. The Alabama Counts 2020 Census Committee serves as the statewide CCC in Alabama.

Why Is It Important To Me?

Responding to the census is not only your civic duty; it also affects the amount of funding your community receives, how your community plans for the future, and your representation in government. Specifically, data from the 2020 Census are used to:

  • Ensure public services and funding for schools, hospitals, and fire departments.
  • Plan new homes and businesses and improve neighborhoods.
  • Determine how many seats each state is allocated in the U.S. House of Representatives.
When Will I Complete The Census?

The next census will take place in 2020. Beginning in mid-March, people will receive a notice in the mail to complete the 2020 Census. Once you receive it, you can respond online. In May, the U.S. Census Bureau will begin following up in person with households that haven’t responded to the census.

Will The 2020 Census Be The Same As 2010?

There are some important changes in 2020:

  • The Census Bureau is building a more accurate address list and automating its field operations—all while keeping your information confidential and safe.
  • For the first time, you will be able to respond online, by phone, or by mail.
  • The Census Bureau will use data that the public has already provided to cut down on in-person follow up visits to nonresponding households.
How Can I Respond?

In 2020, for the first time ever, the Census Bureau will accept responses online and by phone. Responding should take less time than it takes to finish your morning coffee. You can still respond by mail but may need to request a paper form.

What Information Will Be Requested?

The decennial census will collect basic information about the people living in your household. When completing the census, you should count everyone who is living in your household on April 1, 2020.

What Information Will Not Be Requested?

The Census Bureau will never ask for:

  • Social Security numbers.
  • Bank or credit card account numbers.
  • Money or donations.
  • Anything on behalf of a political party.
Will My Information Be Kept Confidential?


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. 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 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 has a robust cybersecurity program that incorporates industry best practices and federal security standards for encrypting data.