The United States Census is a decennial census mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution, which states: "Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States ... according to their respective Numbers ... . The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years."[a] Section 2 of the 14th Amendment states: "Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed." The United States Census Bureau (officially the Bureau of the Census, as defined in Title 13 U.S.C. § 11) is responsible for the United States Census. The Bureau of the Census is part of the United States Department of Commerce.[b]
The first census after the American Revolution was taken in 1790, under Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson; there have been 22 federal censuses since that time. The current national census was held in 2010; the next census is scheduled for 2020 and will be largely conducted using the Internet. For years between the decennial censuses, the Census Bureau issues estimates made using surveys and statistical models, in particular, the American Community Survey.
Title 13 of the United States Code governs how the Census is conducted and how its data is handled. Information is confidential as per 13 U.S.C. § 9. Refusing or neglecting to answer the census is punishable by fines of $100, for a property or business agent to fail to provide correct names for the census is punishable by fines of $500, and for a business agent to provide false answers for the census is punishable by fines of $10,000, pursuant to 13 U.S.C. § 221-224.
The United States Census is a population census, which is distinct from the U.S. Census of Agriculture, which is no longer the responsibility of the Census Bureau. It is also distinct from local censuses conducted by some states or local jurisdictions.
|United States Census|
|Location(s)||4600 Silver Hill Rd.|
Suitland, Maryland 20746
|Inaugurated||August 2, 1790|
|Most recent||April 1, 2010|
Decennial U.S. Census figures are based on actual counts of persons dwelling in U.S. residential structures. They include citizens, non-citizen legal residents, non-citizen long-term visitors and undocumented immigrants. The Census Bureau bases its decision about whom to count on the concept of usual residence. Usual residence, a principle established by the Census Act of 1790, is defined as the place a person lives and sleeps most of the time. The Census Bureau uses special procedures to ensure that those without conventional housing are counted; however, data from these operations are not considered to be as accurate as data obtained from traditional procedures.
The Census also uses hot-deck imputation to assign data to housing units where occupation status is unknown. This practice has effects across many areas, but is seen by some as controversial. However, the practice was ruled constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in Utah v. Evans.
Certain American citizens living overseas are specifically excluded from being counted in the census even though they may vote. Only Americans living abroad who are "Federal employees (military and civilian) and their dependents living overseas with them" are counted. "Private U.S. citizens living abroad who are not affiliated with the Federal government (either as employees or their dependents) will not be included in the overseas counts. These overseas counts are used solely for reapportioning seats in the U. S. House of Representatives."
According to the Census Bureau, "Census Day" has been April 1 since 1930. Previously, from 1790 to 1820, the census counted the population as of the first Monday in August. It moved to June in 1830, (June 2 in 1890), April 15 in 1910, and January 1 in 1920.
The Census Bureau estimates that in 1970 over six percent of blacks went uncounted, whereas only around two percent of whites went uncounted. Democrats often argue that modern sampling techniques should be used so that more accurate and complete data can be inferred. Republicans often argue against such sampling techniques, stating the U.S. Constitution requires an "actual enumeration" for apportionment of House seats, and that political appointees would be tempted to manipulate the sampling formulas.
Groups like the Prison Policy Initiative assert that the census practice of counting prisoners as residents of prisons, not their pre-incarceration addresses, leads to misleading information about racial demographics and population numbers.
In 2010 Jaime Grant, then director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Policy Institute, thought of the idea of a bright pink sticker for people to stick on their census envelope which had a form for them to check a box for either "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or straight ally," which her group called "queering the census." Although the sticker was unofficial and the results were not added to the census, she and others hope the 2020 census will include such statistics. In 2015 Laverne Cox called for transgender people to be counted in the census.
On March 26, 2018 the U.S. Dept of Commerce announced plans to re-include a citizenship question in the 2020 census questionnaire which has not been included on the short form since 1950 but was part of the long form starting in 1910 until the discontinuation of the long form in 2010. The citizenship question will be the same as the one that is asked on the yearly American Community Survey (ACS). Proponents of including the question claimed it is necessary to gather an accurate statistical count, while opponents claimed it might suppress responses and therefore lead to an inaccurate count. Multiple states have sued the Trump administration arguing that the proposed citizenship question is unconstitutional and may intimidate illegal aliens and undocumented workers, resulting in inaccurate data on immigrant communities. In January 2019 a federal judge in New York ruled against the proposal; the U.S. Government appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court which heard oral arguments in April 2019 about whether the citizenship question was constitutional and whether the Secretary of Commerce followed the law when deciding to add the question.
Censuses had been taken prior to the Constitution's ratification; in the early 17th century, a census was taken in Virginia, and people were counted in nearly all of the British colonies that became the United States.
Throughout the years, the country's needs and interests became more complex. This meant that statistics were needed to help people understand what was happening and have a basis for planning. The content of the decennial census changed accordingly. In 1810, the first inquiry on manufactures, quantity and value of products occurred; in 1840, inquiries on fisheries were added; and in 1850, the census included inquiries on social issues, such as taxation, churches, pauperism, and crime. The censuses also spread geographically, to new states and territories added to the Union, as well as to other areas under U.S. sovereignty or jurisdiction. There were so many more inquiries of all kinds in the census of 1880 that almost a full decade was needed to publish all the results. In response to this, the census was mechanized in 1890, with tabulating machines made by Herman Hollerith. This reduced the processing time to two and a half years.
For the first six censuses (1790–1840), enumerators recorded only the names of the heads of household and a general demographic accounting of the remaining members of the household. Beginning in 1850, all members of the household were named on the census. The first slave schedules were also completed in 1850, with the second (and last) in 1860. Censuses of the late 19th century also included agricultural and industrial schedules to gauge the productivity of the nation's economy. Mortality schedules (taken between 1850 and 1880) captured a snapshot of life spans and causes of death throughout the country.
The first nine censuses (1790–1870) were conducted by U.S. Marshals before the Census Bureau was created. Appointed US Marshals of each judicial district hired assistant marshals to conduct the actual enumeration. The census enumerators were typically from the village or neighbourhood and often knew the residents. Before enabling self-identification on the censuses, the US Census Bureau relied on local people to have some knowledge of residents. Racial classification was made by the census enumerator in these decades, rather than by the individual.
|Year||Total population||Progress||Most populated state||Most populated city||Slaves||Notes|
| New York, NY
|694,280||Original numbers were corrected later.|
| New York, NY
|893,605[h]||Original numbers were corrected later.|
|1810[i]||7,239,881||36%|| New York
| New York, NY
|1820[j]||9,638,453||33%|| New York
| New York, NY
|1830[k]||12,866,020||33%|| New York
| New York, NY
|1840[l]||17,069,453||33%|| New York
| New York, NY
|2,487,355||The census estimated the population of the United States at 17,100,000. The results were tabulated by 28 clerks in the Bureau of the Census.|
|1850[m]||23,191,876||36%|| New York
| New York, NY
|3,204,313||The 1850 census was a landmark year in American census-taking. It was the first year in which the census bureau attempted to record every member of every household, including women, children and slaves. Accordingly, the first slave schedules were produced in 1850. Prior to 1850, census records had only recorded the name of the head of the household and tabulated the other household members within given age groups.|
|1860[n]||31,443,321||35%|| New York
| New York, NY
|3,953,761||The results were tabulated by 184 clerks in the Bureau of the Census. This was the first census where the American Indians officially were counted, but only those who had 'renounced tribal rules'. The figure for the nation was 40,000.|
|1870[o]||39,818,449[p]||23%|| New York
| New York, NY
|The first census to provide detailed information on the black population, only years after the culmination of the Civil War when slaves were granted freedom. The results are controversial, as many believed it underestimated the true population numbers, especially in New York and Pennsylvania.|
|1880[q]||50,189,209||30%|| New York
| New York, NY
|The first census that permitted women to be enumerators. Also led to the discovery of Alabama paradox.|
|1890[r][n 1]||62,947,714||25.5%|| New York
| New York, NY
|Because it was believed that the frontier region of the United States no longer existed, the tracking of westward migration was not tabulated in the 1890 census. This trend prompted Frederick Jackson Turner to develop his milestone Frontier Thesis.|
The 1890 census was the first to be compiled using the new tabulating machines invented by Herman Hollerith. The net effect of the many changes from the 1880 census (the larger population, the number of data items to be collected, the Census Bureau headcount, the volume of scheduled publications, and the use of Hollerith's electromechanical tabulators) was to reduce the time required to fully process the census from eight years for the 1880 census to six years for the 1890 census. The total population, of 62,947,714, was announced after only six weeks of processing (punched cards were not used for this family, or rough, count). The public reaction to this tabulation was disbelief, as it was widely believed that the "right answer" was at least 75,000,000.
|1900[s]||76,212,168||21%|| New York
| New York, NY
|1910[t]||92,228,496||21%|| New York
| New York, NY
|1920[u]||106,021,537||15%|| New York
| New York, NY
|This was the first census that recorded a population exceeding 100 million.|
|1930[v][n 2]||122,775,046||13%|| New York
| New York, NY
|1940[w]||132,164,569||7.3%|| New York
| New York, NY
|The most recent census where individuals' data have now been released to the public (by the 72-year rule).|
|1950[x]||150,697,361||14.5%|| New York
| New York, NY
|Will be available for public inspection on April 1, 2022.|
|1960[y]||179,323,175||18.5%|| New York
| New York, NY
|Will be available for public inspection on April 1, 2032.|
| New York, NY
|The first census that recorded a population exceeding 200 million. Will be available for public inspection on April 1, 2042.|
| New York, NY
|Will be available for public inspection on April 1, 2052.|
| New York, NY
|Will be available for public inspection on April 1, 2062.|
| New York, NY
|Will be available for public inspection on April 1, 2072.|
| New York, NY
|The first short-form-only census since 1940, as the decennial long form has been replaced by the American Community Survey. The first census that recorded a population exceeding 300 million. Will be available for public inspection on April 1, 2082.|
One purpose of the census is to divide the house seats by population. Furthermore as with any Census Bureau survey the data provides a beginning for allocation of resources. In addition, collected data are used in aggregate for statistical purposes. Replies are obtained from individuals and establishments only to enable the compilation of such general statistics. The confidentiality of these replies is very important. By law, no one—neither the census takers nor any other Census Bureau employee—is permitted to reveal identifiable information about any person, household, or business.
By law (Pub.L. 95–416, 92 Stat. 915, enacted October 5, 1978), individual decennial census records are sealed for 72 years, a number chosen in 1952 as slightly higher than the average female life expectancy, 71.6. The individual census data most recently released to the public is the 1940 census, released on April 2, 2012. Aggregate census data are released when available.
Under the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), using primarily census records, compiled (1939–1941) the Custodial Detention Index ("CDI") on citizens, enemy aliens, and foreign nationals, who might be dangerous. The Second War Powers Act of 1941 repealed the legal protection of confidential census data, which was not restored until 1947. This information facilitated the internment of Japanese-Americans, following the Japanese attack on the U.S. at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and the internment of Italian- and German-Americans following the United States' entry into World War II.
In 1980, four FBI agents went to the Census Bureau's Colorado Springs office with warrants to seize Census documents, but were forced to leave with nothing. Courts upheld that no agency, including the FBI, has access to Census data.
The census records data specific to individual respondents are not available to the public until 72 years after a given census was taken, but aggregate statistical data derived from the census are released as soon as they are available. Every census up to and including 1940 is currently available to the public and can be viewed on microfilm released by the National Archives and Records Administration, the official keeper of archived federal census records. Complete online census records can be accessed for no cost from National Archives facilities and many libraries, and a growing portion of the census is freely available from non-commercial online sources.
Census microdata for research purposes are available for censuses from 1850 forward through the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS), and scanned copies of each of the decennial census questionnaires are available online from many websites. Computerized aggregate data describing the characteristics of small geographic areas for the entire period from 1790 to 2010 are available from the National Historical Geographic Information System.
The bureau recognizes four census regions within the United States and further organizes them into nine divisions. These regions are groupings of states that subdivide the United States for the presentation of data. They should not be construed as necessarily being thus grouped owing to any geographical, historical, or cultural bonds.
|US Census Regions|
|Region 1: Northeast||Region 2: Midwest||Region 3: South||Region 4: West|
The United States Census of 1830, the fifth census undertaken in the United States, was conducted on June 1, 1830. The only loss of census records for 1830 involved some countywide losses in Massachusetts, Maryland, and Mississippi.
It determined the population of the 24 states to be 12,866,020, of which 2,009,043 were slaves. The center of population was about 170 miles (274 km) west of Washington, D.C. in present-day Grant County, West Virginia.
This was the first census in which a city – New York – recorded a population of over 200,000.1850 United States Census
The United States Census of 1850 was the seventh census of the United States.
Conducted by the Census Office, it determined the resident population of the United States to be 23,191,876—an increase of 35.9 percent over the 17,069,453 persons enumerated during the 1840 Census. The total population included 3,204,313 slaves.
Although the official date of the census date was June 1, 1850, completed census forms indicate that the surveys continued to be made throughout the rest of the year.This was the first census where there was an attempt to collect information about every member of every household; women and children were named. Slaves were included by gender and estimated age on Slave Schedules, listed by the name of the owner. Prior to 1850, census records had recorded only the name of the head of the household and broad statistical accounting of other household members (three children under age five, one woman between the age of 35 and 40, etc.). This was also the first census to ask about place of birth of free residents.
Hinton Rowan Helper made extensive use of the 1850 census results in his politically notorious book The Impending Crisis of the South (1857).1860 United States Census
The United States Census of 1860 was the eighth Census conducted in the United States starting June 1, 1860, and lasting five months. It determined the population of the United States to be 31,443,321, an increase of 35.4 percent over the 23,191,875 persons enumerated during the 1850 Census. The total population included 3,953,761 slaves.
By the time the 1860 census returns were ready for tabulation, the nation was sinking into the American Civil War. As a result, Census Superintendent Joseph C. G. Kennedy and his staff produced only an abbreviated set of public reports, without graphic or cartographic representations. The statistics did allow the Census staff to produce a cartographic display, including preparing maps of Southern states, for Union field commanders. These maps displayed militarily vital topics, including white population, slave population, predominant agricultural products (by county), and rail and post road transportation routes.
This census saw Philadelphia regain its position as second-most populous American city, which it had lost to Baltimore in 1820. Philadelphia would in turn permanently lose the position to Chicago in 1890.1880 United States Census
The United States Census of 1880 conducted by the Census Bureau during June 1880 was the tenth United States Census. It was the first time that women were permitted to be enumerators. The Superintendent of the Census was Francis Amasa Walker. This was the first census in which a city – New York – recorded a population of over one million.1890 United States Census
The Eleventh United States Census was taken beginning June 2, 1890. It determined the resident population of the United States to be 62,979,766—an increase of 25.5 percent over the 50,189,209 persons enumerated during the 1880 census. The data was tabulated by machine for the first time. The data reported that the distribution of the population had resulted in the disappearance of the American frontier. Most of the 1890 census materials were destroyed in a 1921 fire and fragments of the US census population schedule exist only for the states of Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, and Texas, and the District of Columbia.
This was the first census in which a majority of states recorded populations of over one million, as well as the first in which multiple cities – New York as of 1880, Chicago, and Philadelphia – recorded populations of over one million. The census also saw Chicago rank as the nation's second-most populous city, a position it would hold until 1990, in which Los Angeles (currently 57th) would supplant it.1900 United States Census
The Twelfth United States Census, conducted by the Census Office on June 1, 1900, determined the resident population of the United States to be 76,212,168, an increase of 21.0 percent over the 62,979,766 persons enumerated during the 1890 Census.
The census saw the nation's largest city, New York, more than double in size due to the consolidation with Brooklyn, becoming in the process the first American city to record a population of over three million.1910 United States Census
The Thirteenth United States Census, conducted by the Census Bureau on April 15, 1910, determined the resident population of the United States to be 92,228,496, an increase of 21.0 percent over the 76,212,168 persons enumerated during the 1900 Census. The 1910 Census switched from a portrait page orientation to a landscape orientation.1920 United States Census
The Fourteenth United States Census, conducted by the Census Bureau one month from January 5, 1920, determined the resident population of the United States to be 106,021,537, an increase of 15.0 percent over the 92,228,496 persons enumerated during the 1910 Census.
Despite the constitutional requirement that House seats be reapportioned to the states respective of their population every ten years according to the census, members of Congress failed to agree on a reapportionment plan following this census, and the distribution of seats from the 1910 census remained in effect until 1933. In 1929, Congress passed the Reapportionment Act of 1929 which provided for a permanent method of reapportionment and fixed the number of Representatives at 435.
This was the first census in which a state – New York – recorded a population of more than ten million.1930 United States Census
The Fifteenth United States Census, conducted by the Census Bureau one month from April 1, 1930, determined the resident population of the United States to be 122,775,046, an increase of 13.7 percent over the 106,021,537 persons enumerated during the 1920 Census.1940 United States Census
The Sixteenth United States Census, conducted by the Census Bureau, determined the resident population of the United States to be 132,164,569, an increase of 7.3 percent over the 1930 population of 123,202,624 people. The census date of record was April 1, 1940. A number of new questions were asked including where people were 5 years before, highest educational grade achieved, and information about wages. This census introduced sampling techniques; one in 20 people were asked additional questions on the census form. Other innovations included a field test of the census in 1939. This was the first census in which every state (48) had a population greater than 100,000.1950 United States Census
The Seventeenth United States Census, conducted by the Census Bureau, determined the resident population of the United States to be 150,697,361, an increase of 14.5 percent over the 131,669,275 persons enumerated during the 1940 Census. This was the first census in which:
More than one state recorded a population of over 10 million
Every state and territory recorded a population of over 100,000
All 100 largest cities recorded populations of over 100,0001960 United States Census
The Eighteenth United States Census, conducted by the Census Bureau, determined the resident population of the United States to be 179,323,175, an increase of 18.5 percent over the 151,325,798 persons enumerated during the 1950 Census. This was the first census in which all states recorded a population of over 200,000.1970 United States Census
The Nineteenth United States Census, conducted by the Census Bureau, determined the resident population of the United States to be 203,392,031, an increase of 13.4 percent over the 179,323,175 persons enumerated during the 1960 Census. This was the first census since 1800 in which New York was not the most populous state – California overtook it in population in November of 1962. This was also the first census in which all states recorded a population of over 300,000, and the first in which a city in the geographic South recorded a population of over 1 million (Houston).1980 United States Census
The Twentieth United States Census, conducted by the Census Bureau, determined the resident population of the United States to be 226,545,805, an increase of 11.4 percent over the 203,184,772 persons enumerated during the 1970 Census. It was the first census in which a state – California – recorded a population of 20 million people, as well as the first in which all states recorded populations of over 400,000.1990 United States Census
The Twenty-first United States Census, conducted by the Census Bureau, was the first census to be directed by a woman, Barbara Everitt Bryant. It determined the resident population of the United States to be 248,709,873, an increase of 9.8 percent over the 226,545,805 persons enumerated during the 1980 Census.Approximately 16 percent of households received a "long form" of the 1990 census, which contained over 100 questions. Full documentation on the 1990 census, including census forms and a procedural history, is available from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series.
It was the first census to designate "Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander" as a racial group separate from Asians.
To increase black participation in the 1990 United States Census, the bureau recruited Bill Cosby, Magic Johnson, Alfre Woodard, and Miss America Debbye Turner as spokespeople. The Integrated Public Use Microdata Series. Aggregate data for small areas, together with electronic boundary files, can be downloaded from the National Historical Geographic Information System. Personally identifiable information will be available in 2062.This was the first census since 1890 in which Chicago was not the second-largest city, having been overtaken by Los Angeles. As of the 2020 Census, Los Angeles is expected to remain the nation's second-largest city.2000 United States Census
The Twenty-second United States Census, known as Census 2000 and conducted by the Census Bureau, determined the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2000, to be 281,421,906, an increase of 13.2% over the 248,709,873 people enumerated during the 1990 Census. This was the twenty-second federal census and was at the time the largest civilly administered peacetime effort in the United States.Approximately 16 percent of households received a "long form" of the 2000 census, which contained over 100 questions. Full documentation on the 2000 census, including census forms and a procedural history, is available from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series.
This was the first census in which a state – California – recorded a population of over 30 million, as well as the first in which two states – California and Texas – recorded a population of more than 20 million.2010 United States Census
The 2010 United States Census (commonly referred to as the 2010 Census) is the twenty-third and most recent United States national census. National Census Day, the reference day used for the census, was April 1, 2010. The census was taken via mail-in citizen self-reporting, with enumerators serving to spot-check randomly selected neighborhoods and communities. As part of a drive to increase the count's accuracy, 635,000 temporary enumerators were hired. The population of the United States was counted as 308,745,538, a 9.7% increase from the 2000 Census. This was the first census in which all states recorded a population of over half a million, as well as the first in which all 100 largest cities recorded populations of over 200,000.Race and ethnicity in the United States Census
Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, defined by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the United States Census Bureau, are self-identification data items in which residents choose the race or races with which they most closely identify, and indicate whether or not they are of Hispanic or Latino origin (the only categories for ethnicity).The racial categories represent a social-political construct for the race or races that respondents consider themselves to be and, "generally reflect a social definition of race recognized in this country." OMB defines the concept of race as outlined for the US Census as not "scientific or anthropological" and takes into account "social and cultural characteristics as well as ancestry", using "appropriate scientific methodologies" that are not "primarily biological or genetic in reference." The race categories include both racial and national-origin groups.Race and ethnicity are considered separate and distinct identities, with Hispanic or Latino origin asked as a separate question. Thus, in addition to their race or races, all respondents are categorized by membership in one of two ethnic categories, which are "Hispanic or Latino" and "Not Hispanic or Latino". However, the practice of separating "race" and "ethnicity" as different categories has been criticized both by the American Anthropological Association and members of US Commission on Civil Rights.In 1997, OMB issued a Federal Register notice regarding revisions to the standards for the classification of federal data on race and ethnicity. OMB developed race and ethnic standards in order to provide "consistent data on race and ethnicity throughout the Federal Government. The development of the data standards stem in large measure from new responsibilities to enforce civil rights laws." Among the changes, OMB issued the instruction to "mark one or more races" after noting evidence of increasing numbers of interracial children and wanting to capture the diversity in a measurable way and having received requests by people who wanted to be able to acknowledge their or their children's full ancestry rather than identifying with only one group. Prior to this decision, the Census and other government data collections asked people to report only one race.United States Census Bureau
The United States Census Bureau (USCB; officially the Bureau of the Census, as defined in Title 13 U.S.C. § 11) is a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System, responsible for producing data about the American people and economy. The Census Bureau is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce and its director is appointed by the President of the United States.
The Census Bureau's primary mission is conducting the U.S. Census every ten years, which allocates the seats of the U.S. House of Representatives to the states based on their population. The Bureau's various censuses and surveys help allocate over $400 billion in federal funds every year and it helps states, local communities, and businesses make informed decisions. The information provided by the census informs decisions on where to build and maintain schools, hospitals, transportation infrastructure, and police and fire departments.In addition to the decennial census, the Census Bureau continually conducts dozens of other censuses and surveys, including the American Community Survey, the U.S. Economic Census, and the Current Population Survey. Furthermore, economic and foreign trade indicators released by the federal government typically contain data produced by the Census Bureau.
United States Censuses
United States Census
Social survey research