U.S. Census

What is the census data used for? 

 Census data is used annually to distribute more than $1.5 trillion in federal funds. Nearly every federal program relies on census data.

Recent examples include:

  • Planning for hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and the location of other health services.
  • Determining areas eligible for housing assistance and rehabilitation loans.
  • Development of rural areas.​​​
  • Building roads, bridges and various infrastructure.
  • Establishing fair market rents and enforcing fair lending practices.

 The census also determines representation. Every 10 years the results of the U.S. Census are used to reapportion the House of Representatives, determining how many seats each state gets. The data also helps states redraw the boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts to account for population shifts.

When is a special census needed?

 When local officials believe there has been a significant population change in their community due to growth or annexation, a special census may be requested. In Iowa, a city may have only one federal special census per decade. Importantly, the city requesting the special census assumes full responsibility for the cost of the special census.

How do we encourage city residents to take the census?

The census is the main way that cities can calculate their population, which in turn affects how the community is accounted for in terms of federal funding, public services, grants, loans and other programs in the community. Every household will have the option of responding online, by mail or by phone. Ninety-five percent of residents will receive their census invitation by mail. Complete count committees will also help collect the data. Remind your citizens of the importance of completing and submitting their census invitation through all the city’s points of contact with the public. Social media, electronic signboards and newsletters are all great options to use.

To find more information about the census, census job opportunities, complete count committees or to find one in your area, visit the U.S. Census website, www.census.gov.

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