The census is a count of everyone living in the United States. This mandatory count is required by the United States Constitution.
The population of the United States must be counted. This includes people of all ages, races, ethnic groups, citizens, and non-citizens. The Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the United States Code, which means federal law protects the personal information you provide during the census.
Every 10 years
The federal census is conducted every 10 years. The next federal census will occur in 2020. You will receive census correspondence prior to Census Day April 1, 2020. The federal census is different than your annual street listing, which is sent every year by the city or town in which you reside.
Everywhere in the U.S.
The federal census counts everyone living in the United States, including all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.
Online, phone, or mail
The U.S. Census Bureau will send a letter inviting you to go online and complete your census form if you can. Don’t worry if you don’t have internet access – you can respond by phone or paper, too. It takes approximately 10 minutes to complete the questionnaire. The online questionnaire will be available in 12 non-English languages (Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese and Japanese). Help will also be available by phone in some of these languages.
If the U.S. Census Bureau does not receive a response from your household, they will mail a second form. Households that still do not respond will be called or visited by a Census worker. (Census workers can be identified by a census badge.)
The data collected during the federal census determines federal funding for your community, your community’s representation in Congress, and planning decisions made in your community.
It’s required by law
The information you provide is combined with responses provided by your neighbors and other households across the country, to provide summary statistical data that are used by various local, state, and federal agencies.
IS CENSUS DATA CONFIDENTIAL?
ABSOLUTELY! Your answers are protected by law (Title l3 of the U.S. Code, Section 9) and are strictly confidential. It is illegal for the Census Bureau, or its employees, to share your personal information with any other government agency, including: local law enforcement, IRS, Health and Human Services (HHS), FBI, ICE, etc.
Not even the President of the United States can access your individual responses.
HOW DOES THE CENSUS AFFECT ME?
Census affects funding in your community • Census data directly affects how more than $675 billion per year in federal and state funding is allocated to communities for neighborhood improvements, public health, education, transportation, and much more. Spending just a few minutes to fill out your census form will help ensure your community gets its fair share of federal and state funding.
Census affects your voice in Congress • The number of representatives in Congress is determined by the number of residents in Massachusetts in relation to the number of residents in the United States. Currently we have 9 U.S. Representatives – in order to preserve our representation, we must ensure that everyone is counted so Massachusetts maintains its strong voice in Congress.
The census affects your power in the Electoral College • The population count, as determined by census data, affects how many votes Massachusetts has in the Electoral College.
The census affects your representation in state and local government • Federal census data is used to define legislative districts, school district assignment areas and other important areas of government.
Census provides important information used for local decision-making • The census is a snapshot that helps define who we are as a nation. Data about changes in your community are crucial to many planning decisions, such as where to provide services for the elderly, where to build new roads and schools, or where to locate job training centers.