How is census data used?

The decennial census is used to determine representation in Congress and state legislatures. In addition, the federal government distributes more than $675 billion each year to states and communities based on Census Bureau data. The census also provides vital information for communities:

  • Census data determines how many representatives each state gets in the U.S. Congress.
  • States use the totals to redraw boundaries for their legislative districts.
  • Communities use census statistics to determine where to build new schools, roads, health care facilities, child-care and senior centers. Local governments use the census for public safety and emergency preparedness.
  • Businesses use census data to decide where to locate distribution centers, where to expand or locate new stores.  Census data also provides information on who lives in the area and the number of educated and skilled people in the workforce.