2020 Census

Overview of the 2020 Census

The census is required by the U.S. Constitution and getting it right is important to everyone. A fair and accurate census, and the collection of useful, objective data about our nation’s people, housing, economy, and communities generally, is among the most important civil rights issues of our day. An accurate census:

  • Directly affects our nation’s ability to ensure equal representation and equal access to more than $600 billion a year in important governmental resources for all Americans;
  • Helps federal agencies monitor discrimination and implement civil rights laws that protect voting rights, equal employment opportunity, and more; and
  • Assists state and local leaders in identifying and addressing emerging needs for health care, education, housing, food and income security, rural access to broadband, and other services.

The Census and Civil Rights (PDF)

Census and Fair, Equitable Distribution of Funds

Each person counted may directly determine funding levels for a few programs, and will influence funding levels for many others.

While we cannot say that each person counted in the census would increase federal program dollars to a state or locality by a certain amount, census results are of utmost importance to distributing federal funding — and doing so equitably and prudently.

A more accurate census will: (1) ensure that every community, as well as people and households in need, receive the federal resources to which they are entitled under all census-guided programs; and (2) ensure that lawmakers can make more informed decisions about how to allocate federal dollars fairly, prudently, and effectively.

Counting For Dollars: The Role of the Decennial Census in the Geographic Distribution of Federal Funds is a new analysis of the use of Census-derived data by 16 large federal programs.

How to use Counting for Dollars (PDF)

Census and Hard-to-Count Populations

The census has historically missed certain communities–communities of color, urban and rural low-income households, immigrants, and young children—at disproportionately high rates. Being undercounted deprives these communities of equal political representation and private and public resources.

Census Accuracy and the Undercount (PDF)

Hard to Count: Young Children and Their Communities (PDF)

TABLE 1a: States Ranked by Number of Children Under Age 5 Living in Hard-to-Count (HTC) Census Tracts (PDF)

TABLE 1b: States Ranked by Percent of Children Under Age 5 Living in Hard-to-Count (HTC) Census Tracts (PDF)

TABLE 1c: States with Number and Percent of Children Under Age 5 Living in Hard-to-Count (HTC) Census Tracts (PDF)

TABLE 2a: 100 Largest Cities (Places) Ranked by Number of Children Under Age 5 Living in Hard-to-Count (HTC) Census Tracts (PDF)

TABLE 2b: 100 Largest Cities Ranked by Percent of Children Under Age 5 Living in Hard-to Count (HTC) Tracts (PDF)

TABLE 2c: Top 100 Large Places with Number and Percent of Children Under Age 5 Living in Hard-to-Count (HTC) Census Tracts (PDF)

TABLE 3a: Congressional Districts Ranked by Number of Children Under 5 Years Old Living in Hard-to-Count (HTC) Census Tracts (114th Congress, 2015-16) (PDF)

TABLE 3b: Congressional Districts Ranked by Percent of Children Under 5 Years Old Living in Hard-to-Count (HTC) Census Tracts (114th Congress, 2015-16) (PDF)

TABLE 3c: Congressional Districts with Number and Percent of Population Under 5 Years Old Living in Hard-to-Count (HTC) Census Tracts (114th Congress, 2015-2016) (PDF)

Census, Citizenship, and Immigration/Legal Status

Both Republican and Democratic administrations, through the U.S. Department of Justice, have confirmed unequivocally that the Constitution requires a count of all persons living in the United States on Census Day, regardless of citizenship or legal status. Nonetheless, policymakers over the years have sought to add questions on citizenship and legal status to the 2020 Census form.

Citizenship and Immigration/Legal Status Questions on the 2020 Census: Preventing a Decennial Disaster (PDF)

Race and Ethnicity in the 2020 Census

The collection of accurate, comprehensive race and ethnicity data in the census is central to implementing, monitoring, and evaluating a vast range of civil rights laws and policies, from fair political representation and voting reforms, to equal opportunity and access across all economic and social sectors of society, including housing, education, health care, and the job market. The data provide evidence of disparate impact of governmental and private sector policies and practices, and assist civic and business leaders in devising solutions that promote equality of opportunity and address the needs of a diverse population.

Race and Ethnicity in the 2020 Census: Improving Data to Capture a Multiethnic America is a comprehensive review of how census race and ethnicity data are used to advance equal opportunity and social justice, whether through statutes, regulations, or case law, and the potential implications of proposed revisions to the 2020 census race and ethnicity questions for continued, effective implementation, monitoring, and enforcement of civil rights protections.

Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) Operation

Congress created the LUCA program in 1994 to facilitate state and local participation in building the all-important address list for each census. LUCA gives tribal, state, and local governments the opportunity to review and update the Census Bureau’s address list and digital maps for their areas, reflecting their knowledge of non-traditional and low visibility housing in their communities. Through LUCA, communities can help ensure that the census counts the residents of all housing units and puts them in the right place.

Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) Program (PDF)

2020 Census Toolkit

This toolkit aims to help civil rights and census advocates have educated and meaningful conversations with important audiences who can impact the efficacy of the 2020 Census – including elected officials, community leaders, members of the media, and opinion leaders at all levels. Everyone must be told about the importance of supporting a full and accurate 2020 Census.

Census 2020 Toolkit (PDF)

Latest News

Why a Fair and Accurate 2020 Census Matters

Friday, July 7, 2017

Being left out of the census can deprive population groups and communities of vital public and private resources. A new analysis from the George Washington Institute of Public Policy makes clear the value of a fair and accurate decennial census and the dire consequences of failing to achieve that goal. This analysis of the geographic … Read More

Categories: Census, News

Census Bureau Releases New Poverty, Income Data

Friday, September 16, 2016

This week, the U.S. Census Bureau released new poverty and income data for 2015 that show an increase in median household income, a decrease in the official poverty rate, and a decline in the number of people without health insurance. As the bureau notes, “This is the first annual increase in median household income since … Read More

Categories: Census, Economic Security, News

Census Data Show Inequality, Racial Disparities Persist

Friday, September 18, 2015

This week, the U.S. Census Bureau released new poverty and income data for 2014 that show no statistically significant movement from 2013 figures. It’s the fourth year in a row that the official poverty rate, and the third year in a row that median household income, has not significantly changed. Though income isn’t growing overall, … Read More

Categories: Census, News