You’ve probably heard that the census is happening in 2020, and if you’re old enough, you remember that we do this once every 10 years.
What you may not realize is that having a census is required by the United States Constitution. Why would counting the population of the country be so important that it is a constitutional mandate? Read on.
In the United States, the number of people in the House of Representatives are determined by the population of each state. The primary reason we have a head count every 10 years is to make sure the people are accurately represented.
For example, if millions of people flock from California to Florida, the census would reflect that migration and would take some of California’s seats in Congress and give them to Florida.
If a state has a large increase in population over the previous 10 years, that state will get another representative. States that see a decrease in population may lose a representative.
In addition to determining how many representatives each state has in Congress, the census data is also used by other areas of federal, state and local government.
Your city will use the census information to determine where to build new fire stations and police departments. Your county school system uses the population data from the census to determine where to build new schools. The federal government uses the census data to determine how much funding goes to each state for federal programs.
Businesses also use census data to determine where they need to open new stores and restaurants and where they need to expand their products or presence.
The census turns up a wealth of data. It tells us which populations are growing in what areas of the country, what the income level is in each area, and other valuable information about who the people are that make up the United States.