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What is the census

Aug 29, 2020


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Census, an enumeration of people, houses, firms, or other important items in a country or region at a particular time. Used alone, the term usually refers to a population census—the type to be described in this article. However, many countries take censuses of housing, manufacturing, and agriculture. The census tells us who we are and where we are going as a nation, and helps our communities determine where to build everything from schools to supermarkets, and from homes to hospitals. It helps the government decide how to distribute funds and assistance to states and localities.  It’s done every 10 years. The government spends millions to gather the information, including promoting the survey and hiring thousands to knock on doors to try to complete the count.

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The United States Census (plural censuses or 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". Section 2 of the 14th Amendment amended Article I, Section 2 to include that the "respective Numbers" of the "several States" will be determined by "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.