Census 101

What is the U.S. Census?


 “As mandated by the U.S. Constitution, our nation gets just one chance each decade to count its population. The U.S. census counts every resident in the United States. It is mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution and takes place every 10 years. The data collected by the census determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives (a process called apportionment) and is also used to distribute billions in federal funds to local communities.” – U.S. Census Bureau

The decennial Census aims to count every person living in the United States once, only once, and in the place they call home. As stated above, the U.S. Constitution mandates that everyone in the country be counted every 10 years.

Fast Facts

  1. The census is a count of everyone living in the United States every 10 years.

  2. The census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution.

  3. The next census is on April 1, 2020.

  4. For the first time, people will be able to fill out the census online. They will also be able to fill out the Census over the phone or in paper form and submit it via mail.

  5. The Census takes less than 10 minutes to complete.

  6. Federal law protects the personal information shared during the Census.

  7. Census data are used to distribute Congressional seats to states, to make decisions about what community services to provide, and to distribute $675 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year.

  8. The goal of the 2020 Census is to count everyone once, only once and ensure they are counted in the place they call home.

What does the Census mean for Greater Cincinnati? For each person not counted in the 2020 Census, Greater Cincinnati loses $1,814 per year in federal funding. In 2010, there was a 77% participation rate Hamilton County meaning that 23% of the population was not counted. Due to the undercount in the 2010 Census, $34 billion of federal funding was lost during the last decade in Hamilton County. 


Math: Estimated 2018 population of Hamilton County: 816,684. 23% of the estimated population is 187,837. 187,837 people x $1,814 x 10 years = $3.4 billion.


Have another question about the Census? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Cincinnati Complete Count Committee

“A complete Count Committee is a volunteer committee established by tribal, state, and local governments and community leaders or organizations to increase awareness and motivate residents to respond to the 2020 Census.” – U.S. Census Bureau

Greater Cincinnati’s Complete Count Committee (CCC) is a team of community organizations and regional stakeholders appointed by Mayor John Cranley and Commissioner Denise Driehaus to develop an outreach and awareness campaign for the 2020 Census. The CCC’s primary focus is to use all available resources to ensure that every Greater Cincinnati resident is counted in the 2020 Census.

The Complete Count Committee will ensure accurate, complete, and representative data that has many benefits, including federal and state funding, future private investment planning, and congressional apportionment.

Support the Census

Partners can support the Census Bureau by:

  • Helping people understand that responding to the 2020 Census is important and safe.

  • Encouraging response to the mailed or hand-delivered materials from the Census Bureau.

  • Assisting people living with disabilities. For example, helping a person who is visually impaired dial the appropriate phone number to respond to the questionnaire.

  • Providing language assistance to non-English speaking individuals.

  • Providing access to computers and tablets for on-the-spot access to the 2020 Census website at places like conferences, public events, community centers, health care facilities, places of worship, and shopping areas.

Census Timeline

  • April – December 2019: Complete Count Committee formation and educational outreach

  • January – March 2020: Complete Count Committee awareness outreach

  • Mid-March 2020: Census Invitation sent via mail

  • March 12: Census opens online

  • March 23, 2020: Census opens by mail and phone

  • April 1, 2020: Census Day

  • Mid-May – September 2020: Non-response follow-up by Census workers