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The Importance of the 2020 US Census

The United States is currently conducting the 2020 Census. According to the official government website,, the census “counts every person living in the United States and five U.S. territories.” The modern census is much different from the ones that originated in the ancient cultures of Persia, China, and Egypt. The ancient inventories were about discovering who to tax or force into military service or labor, while the modern census takes stock of the population to determine how to allocate funds or determine representation in congress.

Information provided at explains that the modern form of the census started in the 17th century in parts of Scandinavia and Europe. Though the act of census taking was growing in popularity, “the United States made history when it took its first census in 1790, not only because of the size of the area enumerated and the effort to obtain data on characteristics of the population but also because of the political purpose for which it was undertaken—namely, representation in Congress on the basis of population.” This was the first time a census had been used to determine representation of the people for political purposes.

So, exactly how does the US Census help the American people? The official census website offers the following points of information:

*Census results help determine how billions of dollars in federal funding flow into states and communities each year.

*Over the next decade, lawmakers, business owners, and many others will use 2020 Census data to make critical decisions. The results will show where communities need new schools, new clinics, new roads, and more services for families, older adults, and children.

*The results will also inform how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding are allocated to more than 100 programs, including Medicaid, Head Start, block grants for community mental health services, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP.

*The results determine how many seats in Congress each state gets.

*It's mandated by the U.S. Constitution in Article 1, Section 2: The U.S. has counted its population every 10 years since 1790.

Participants in the US Census do not have to worry about sharing personal information with the government. The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to protect your answers and keep them strictly confidential. The law ensures that your private information is never published and that your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court.

Most people should have received their invitation to respond to the 2020 Census between March 12 – 20. These official mailings include detailed information and a Census ID for completing the Census online. In addition to an invitation to respond, some households will receive a paper questionnaire (sometimes known as the census form). You do not need to wait for your paper questionnaire to respond to the Census.

The 2020 US Census completed online, by phone, or by paper form that can be mailed. For more information on how to participate in the census, please visit www.2020census,gov.

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