The 2010 Census Explained


In 1790, the first census was taken by U.S. marshals on horseback and counted 3.9 million people. Census 2000 counted more than 281 million people.

The US Census Bureau is hiring workers right now to work on the 2010 census.  Usually the work is in and for your local community.  The census job opportunity is perfect for anyone who is looking for part time employment or is between jobs.

What is the Census?

  • The census is a count of everyone living in the United States every 10 years.
  • The census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution.
  • The next census is in 2010.
  • Your participation in the census is required by law.
  • It takes less than 10 minutes to complete.
  • Federal law protects the personal information you share during the census.
  • Census data are used to distribute Congressional seats to states, to make decisions about what community services to provide, and to distribute $300 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year.

What's New In the Census for 2010?

The Census Bureau has changed the way it conducts the national count.  In the past, most households received a short-form questionnaire, while one household in six received a long form that contained additional questions and provided more detailed socioeconomic information about the population.

The 2010 Census will be a short-form only census and will count all residents living in the United States as well as ask for name, sex, age, date of birth, race, ethnicity, relationship and housing tenure - taking just minutes to complete.

The more detailed socioeconomic information is now collected through the American Community Survey. The survey provides current data about your community every year, rather than once every 10 years. It is sent to a small percentage of the population on a rotating basis throughout the decade. No household will receive the survey more often than once every five years.

How Many People Live in the United States?

According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the resident population of the United States is 305,832,073.  This population is based on the national population estimates. The U.S. Census Bureau produces national population estimates annually using the latest available data on births, deaths, and international migration.

This populations is growing by approximately:

One birth every..................................   7 seconds
One death every..................................  12 seconds
One international migrant (net) every............  33 seconds
Net gain of one person every.....................  13 seconds


US Census History

Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution requires that a census of the population be conducted every 10 years so that the representatives in Congress and direct taxes might be apportioned.

Federal marshals conduct the first census by going door-to-door through the 13 states plus the districts of Maine, Vermont, Kentucky, and the Southwest Territory (Tennessee). The marshals record the name of every householder and count the occupants in each house. African-American slaves are counted as three-fifths of a person, and American Indians not subject to taxation are excluded. The census is completed in 18 months at a cost of $44,000. The census counts 3.9 million people.

Congress directs the federal marshals and their assistants to take "an account of the several manufacturing establishments and manufactures within their districts."

The first centrally produced and printed forms are used for collecting census data. Prior to this, marshals used sheets of paper or notebooks that they had designed themselves. The new forms include questions about disabilities.

Questions on agriculture, mining, and fishing are added to the census. The number of economic and demographic questions increase from the six asked in the first census to more than 70.

Congress establishes a temporary census office in the Department of the Interior. All free persons, rather than just the head of house, are recorded by name, along with their occupation and place of birth. Questions on social issues-taxation, churches, poverty, and crime-are added to the census.

American Indians no longer living in tribal relations, and under state and territorial laws as citizens, are enumerated.


The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, ending the three-fifths counting rule for slaves.

The first census in which all inhabitants are counted as whole persons. Asian Americans, collectively categorized as "Chinese," are given their own racial classification..

Professional enumerators replace the U.S. marshals and their assistants as census takers. American Indians living on reservations or in tribal relations are enumerated for the first time (however, they were not included in the apportionment count until 1940).

For the first time, electric counting machines are used to tabulate census data.

Congress authorizes a permanent census office that in the following year is transferred from the Interior Department to the Department of Commerce and Labor. (In 1913, when Commerce and Labor become separate departments, the U.S. Census Bureau is placed in the Department of Commerce.)

The first census in which a majority of the U.S. population lives in urban areas; partly as a result, this is the only census after which congressional seats were not reapportioned among the states.

Following the onset of the Great Depression, the Census Bureau develops a new separate questionnaire to measure unemployment.

Statistical sampling techniques are introduced. These allow the Census Bureau to create a "long form" answered by only a subset of the population. In order to measure the effect of the Great Depression on the nation's housing stock, the first census of housing is taken concurrently with the population census.


For the first time, an electronic computer, UNIVAC I, is used to help tabulate results.

In an effort to move toward self-enumeration, census forms are mailed to urban households. Residents are instructed to complete these forms and hold them for an enumerator to pick up. The Census Bureau automates the data capture process by introducing optical mark recognition equipment (called FOSDIC) to "read" microfilmed copies of questionnaires.

Mail-in forms take precedence over door-to-door enumerators. For the first time, a 5 percent sample of respondents are asked to check off whether they are of Spanish or Hispanic origin or descent.

Although the 1980 Census is considered one of the most accurate in recent decades, a number of states and localities file lawsuits challenging the final results.

For the first time since 1940, the Census Bureau observes an increase in the estimated net undercount. Also, the mail response rate drops to 65 percent, the lowest since 1960. The Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing (TIGER) system unifies data collection and data tabulation geography and is a key component of the rapidly growing geographic information system (GIS) industry.

The Supreme Court rules that statistical sampling cannot be used to determine the population data used for congressional apportionment. One of the principal ways in which the Census Bureau sought to use sampling in Census 2000 was by statistically adjusting the census counts to correct for net undercounts and overcounts.

Including the hiring of 860,000 temporary workers, Census 2000 is the largest peacetime mobilization of resources and personnel. For the first time, the Census Bureau hires a private company to run a nationwide advertising campaign to encourage people to fill out their forms and reverses the downward trend in mail response rates since 1970.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
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