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The United States Census Bureau (USCB), officially the Bureau of the Census, is a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System, responsible for producing data about the American
people A person ( : people) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a culturally established form of social relations such as kinship, ownership of pro ...
and economy. The Census Bureau is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce and its
director Director may refer to: Literature * ''Director'' (magazine), a British magazine * ''The Director'' (novel), a 1971 novel by Henry Denker * ''The Director'' (play), a 2000 play by Nancy Hasty Music * Director (band), an Irish rock band * ''D ...
is appointed by the President of the United States. The Census Bureau's primary mission is conducting the U.S. census every ten years, which allocates the seats of the
U.S. House of Representatives The United States House of Representatives, often referred to as the House of Representatives, the U.S. House, or simply the House, is the lower chamber of the United States Congress, with the Senate being the upper chamber. Together they ...
to the states based on their population. The bureau's various censuses and surveys help allocate over $675 billion in federal funds every year and it assists states, local communities, and businesses make informed decisions. The information provided by the census informs decisions on where to build and maintain schools, hospitals, transportation infrastructure, and police and fire departments. In addition to the decennial census, the Census Bureau continually conducts over 130 surveys and programs a year, including the American Community Survey, the U.S. Economic Census, and the
Current Population Survey The Current Population Survey (CPS) is a monthly survey of about 60,000 U.S. households conducted by the United States Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS uses the data to publish reports early each month called the E ...
.USCB DOC-D1026 QVC Manual 01/03/09 Furthermore, economic and foreign trade indicators released by the federal government typically contain data produced by the Census Bureau.

Legal mandate

Article One of the United States Constitution (section II) directs the population be enumerated at least once every ten years and the resulting counts used to set the number of members from each state in the
House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies in many countries and sub-national entitles. In many countries, the House of Representatives is the lower house of a bicameral legislature, with the corresponding upper house often ca ...
and, by extension, in the Electoral College. The Census Bureau now conducts a full population count every ten years in years ending with a zero and uses the term " decennial" to describe the operation. Between censuses, the Census Bureau makes population estimates and projections. In addition, Census data directly affects how more than $400 billion per year in federal and state funding is allocated to communities for neighborhood improvements, public health, education, transportation and more. The Census Bureau is mandated with fulfilling these obligations: the collecting of statistics about the nation, its people, and economy. The Census Bureau's legal authority is codified in Title 13 of the United States Code. The Census Bureau also conducts surveys on behalf of various federal government and local government agencies on topics such as employment, crime, health, consumer expenditures, and housing. Within the bureau, these are known as "demographic surveys" and are conducted perpetually between and during decennial (10-year) population counts. The Census Bureau also conducts economic surveys of manufacturing, retail, service, and other establishments and of domestic governments. Between 1790 and 1840, the census was taken by marshals of the judicial districts. The Census Act of 1840 established a central office which became known as the Census Office. Several acts followed that revised and authorized new censuses, typically at the 10-year intervals. In 1902, the temporary Census Office was moved under the Department of Interior, and in 1903 it was renamed the Census Bureau under the new
Department of Commerce and Labor The United States Department of Commerce and Labor was a short-lived Cabinet department of the United States government, which was concerned with fostering and supervising big business. Origins and establishment Calls in the United States ...
. The department was intended to consolidate overlapping statistical agencies, but Census Bureau officials were hindered by their subordinate role in the department. An act in 1920 changed the date and authorized manufacturing censuses every two years and agriculture censuses every 10 years. In 1929, a bill was passed mandating the House of Representatives be reapportioned based on the results of the 1930 Census.History 1920
. US Census Bureau.
In 1954, various acts were codified into Title 13 of the U.S. Code. By law, the Census Bureau must count everyone and submit state population totals to the U.S. President by December 31 of any year ending in a zero. States within the Union receive the results in the spring of the following year.


Data collection


Census regions and divisions

The United States Census Bureau defines four statistical regions, with nine divisions. The Census Bureau regions are "widely used...for data collection and analysis"."The National Energy Modeling System: An Overview 2003" (Report #:DOE/EIA-0581, October 2009). United States Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. The Census Bureau definition is pervasive. Regional divisions used by the United States Census Bureau: * Region 1: Northeast ** Division 1: New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) ** Division 2: Mid-Atlantic (New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) * Region 2: Midwest (Prior to June 1984, the Midwest Region was designated as the North Central Region.) ** Division 3: East North Central (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin) ** Division 4: West North Central (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota) * Region 3: South ** Division 5: South Atlantic (Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington D.C., and West Virginia) ** Division 6: East South Central (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee) ** Division 7: West South Central (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas) * Region 4:
West West or Occident is one of the four cardinal directions or points of the compass. It is the opposite direction from east and is the direction in which the Sun sets on the Earth. Etymology The word "west" is a Germanic word passed into some ...
** Division 8: Mountain (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming) ** Division 9: Pacific (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington) The current system was introduced for the 1910 census, but other ways of grouping states were used historically by the Census Bureau. The first of these was introduced after the 1850 census by statistician and later census superintendent J. D. B. De Bow. He published a compendium where the states and territories were grouped into five "great division", namely the Middle, New England, the Northwestern, the Southern, and the Southwestern. Unsatisfied with this system, De Bow devised another one four years later, with states and territories grouped into an Eastern, Interior, and Western "great section", each divided into a northern and southern half called "great divisions". In the following decades, several other systems were used, until the current one was introduced in 1910. This system has seen only minor changes: The North region was divided into a Northeast and a North Central region in 1940, Alaska and Hawaii were both added to the Pacific division in the West region upon statehood in 1959, and the North Central region was renamed the Midwest in 1984.


Uses of census data

Many federal, state, local and tribal governments use census data to: * Decide the location of new housing and public facilities, * Examine the demographic characteristics of communities, states, and the US, * Plan transportation systems and roadways, * Determine quotas and creation of police and fire precincts, and * Create localized areas for elections, schools, utilities, etc. * Gathers population information every 10 years


Data stewardship

The United States Census Bureau is committed to confidentiality and guarantees non-disclosure of any addresses or personal information related to individuals or establishments. Title 13 of the U.S. Code establishes penalties for the disclosure of this information. All Census employees must sign an affidavit of non-disclosure prior to employment. The bureau cannot share responses, addresses or personal information with anyone, including the United States or foreign governments, or law enforcement agencies such as the IRS or the FBI or
Interpol The International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO; french: link=no, Organisation internationale de police criminelle), commonly known as Interpol ( , ), is an international organization that facilitates worldwide police cooperation and cr ...
. "Providing quality data, for public good—while respecting individual privacy and, at the same time, protecting confidentiality—is the Census Bureau's core responsibility"; "Keeping the public's trust is critical to the Census's ability to carry out the mission as the leading source of quality data about the Nation's people and economy." Only after 72 years does the information collected become available to other agencies or the general public. Seventy-two years was picked because usually by 72 years since the census is taken, most participants would be deceased. Despite these guarantees of confidentiality, the Census Bureau has some history of disclosures to other government agencies. In 1918, the Census Bureau released individual information regarding several hundred young men to the Justice Department and Selective Service system for the purpose of prosecutions for draft evasion. During
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great powers—forming two opposing ...
, the United States Census Bureau assisted the government's Japanese American internment efforts by providing confidential neighborhood information on
Japanese-Americans are Americans of Japanese ancestry. Japanese Americans were among the three largest Asian American ethnic communities during the 20th century; but, according to the 2000 census, they have declined in number to constitute the sixth largest Asi ...
. The bureau's role was denied for decades but was finally proven in 2007. United States census data are valuable for the country's political parties; Democrats and Republicans are highly interested in knowing the accurate number of persons in their respective districts. These insights are often linked to financial and economic strategies that are central to federal, state and city investments for locations of particular populations. Such apportionments are designed to distribute political power across neutral spatial allocations; however, "because so much is at stake, the census also runs the risk of being politicized." Such political tensions highlight the complexity of identity and classification; some argue that unclear results from the population data "is due to distortions brought about by political pressures." One frequently used example includes ambiguous ethnic counts, which often involves underenumeration and/or undercounting of minority populations. Ideas about race, ethnicity and identity have also evolved in the United States, and such changes warrant examination of how these shifts have impacted the accuracy of census data over time. The United States Census Bureau began pursuing technological innovations to improve the precision of its census data collection in the 1980s. Robert W. Marx, the Chief of the Geography Division of the USCB teamed up with the U.S. Geological Survey and oversaw the creation of the Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing (TIGER) database system. Census officials were able to evaluate the more sophisticated and detailed results that the TIGER system produced; furthermore, TIGER data is also available to the public. And while the TIGER system does not directly amass demographic data, as a
geographic information system A geographic information system (GIS) is a type of database containing geographic data (that is, descriptions of phenomena for which location is relevant), combined with software tools for managing, analyzing, and visualizing those data. In a ...
(GIS), it can be used to merge
demographics Demography () is the statistical study of populations, especially human beings. Demographic analysis examines and measures the dimensions and dynamics of populations; it can cover whole societies or groups defined by criteria such as ...
to conduct more accurate geospatial and mapping analysis. In July 2019 the Census Bureau deprecated American FactFinder, which was decommissioned in March 2020 after 20 years of being the agency's primary tool for data dissemination. The new platform is data.census.gov.


Ongoing surveys

Throughout the decade between censuses, the bureau conducts surveys to produce a general view and comprehensive study of the United States' social and economic conditions. Staff from the Current Surveys Program conduct over 130 ongoing and special surveys about people and their characteristics. A network of professional field representatives gathers information from a sample of households, responding to questions about employment, consumer expenditures, health, housing, and other topics. Surveys conducted between decades:


Other surveys conducted

The Census Bureau collects information in many other surveys and provides the data to the survey sponsor for release. These sponsors include: * Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) * Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) * Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) *
Department of Housing and Urban Development The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is one of the executive departments of the U.S. federal government. It administers federal housing and urban development laws. It is headed by the Secretary of Housing and Ur ...
(HUD) *
National Center for Education Statistics The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is the part of the United States Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES) that collects, analyzes, and publishes statistics on education and public school district financ ...
(NCES) *
National Center for Health Statistics The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) is a U.S. government agency that provides statistical information to guide actions and policies to improve the public health of the American people. It is a unit of the Centers for Disease Control ...
(NCHS) * National Science Foundation (NSF) * Social Security Administration (SSA)


Organizational structure

Since 1903, the official census-taking agency of the United States government has been the Bureau of the Census. The Census Bureau is headed by a director, assisted by a deputy director and an executive staff composed of the associate directors. The Census Bureau headquarters has been in Suitland, Maryland, since 1942. A new headquarters complex completed there in 2007 supports over 4,000 employees. The bureau operates regional offices in 6 cities:
New York City New York, often called New York City or NYC, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous city in the United States. With a 2020 population of 8,804,190 distributed over , New York City is also the L ...
,
Philadelphia Philadelphia, often called Philly, is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the sixth-largest city in the U.S., the second-largest city in both the Northeast megalopolis and Mid-Atlantic regions after New York City. Sin ...
, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, and
Los Angeles Los Angeles ( ; es, Los Ángeles, link=no , ), often referred to by its initials L.A., is the List of municipalities in California, largest city in the U.S. state, state of California and the List of United States cities by population, sec ...
. The National Processing Center is in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Additional temporary processing facilities facilitate the decennial census, which employs more than a million people. The cost of the 2000 Census was $4.5 billion. During the years just prior to the decennial census, parallel census offices, known as "Regional Census Centers" are opened in the field office cities. The decennial operations are carried out from these facilities. The Regional Census Centers oversee the openings and closings of smaller "Area Census Offices" within their collection jurisdictions. In 2020, Regional Census Centers oversaw the operation of 248 Area Census Offices, The estimated cost of the 2010 Census is $14.7 billion. On January 1, 2013, the Census Bureau consolidated its twelve regional offices into six. Increasing costs of data collection, changes in survey management tools such as laptops and the increasing use of multi-modal surveys (i.e. internet, telephone, and in-person) led the Bureau to consolidate. The six regional offices that closed were Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, Detroit, Kansas City and Seattle. The remaining regional offices are New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, and Los Angeles. The Census Bureau also runs the Census Information Center cooperative program that involves 58 "national, regional, and local non-profit organizations". The CIC program aims to represent the interests of underserved communities.


Computer equipment

The 1890 census was the first to use the electric tabulating machines invented by Herman Hollerith. For 1890–1940 details, see In 1946, knowing of the bureau's funding of Hollerith and, later,
Powers Powers may refer to: Arts and media * ''Powers'' (comics), a comic book series by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming ** ''Powers'' (American TV series), a 2015–2016 series based on the comics * ''Powers'' (British TV series), a 200 ...
,
John Mauchly John William Mauchly (August 30, 1907 – January 8, 1980) was an American physicist who, along with J. Presper Eckert, designed ENIAC, the first general-purpose electronic digital computer, as well as EDVAC, BINAC and UNIVAC I, the first ...
approached the bureau about early funding for
UNIVAC UNIVAC (Universal Automatic Computer) was a line of electronic digital stored-program computers starting with the products of the Eckert–Mauchly Computer Corporation. Later the name was applied to a division of the Remington Rand company a ...
development. A
UNIVAC I The UNIVAC I (Universal Automatic Computer I) was the first general-purpose electronic digital computer design for business application produced in the United States. It was designed principally by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly, the inve ...
computer was accepted by the bureau in 1951.


Handheld computers (HHC)

Historically, the census information was gathered by census takers going door-to-door collecting information in a ledger. Beginning in 1970 information was gathered via mailed forms. To reduce paper usage, reduce payroll expense and acquire the most comprehensive list of addresses ever compiled, 500,000 handheld computers (HHCs) (specifically designed, single-purpose devices) were used for the first time in 2009 during the address canvassing portion of the 2010 Decennial Census Project. Projected savings were estimated to be over $1 billion.


Security precautions

The HHC was manufactured by Harris Corporation, an established Department of Defense contractor, via a controversial contract with the Department of Commerce. Secured access via a fingerprint swipe guaranteed only the verified user could access the unit. A GPS capacity was integral to the daily address management and the transfer of gathered information. Of major importance was the security and integrity of the populace's private information.


Success and failure

Enumerators (information gatherers) that had operational problems with the device understandably made negative reports. During the 2009 Senate confirmation hearings for
Robert Groves Robert Martin Groves (born September 27, 1948) is an American sociologist and expert in survey methodology who has served as the Provost of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. since August 2012. He also served as the Director of the Unit ...
, President Obama's Census Director appointee, there was much mention of problems but very little criticism of the units. In rural areas, the sparsity of cell phone towers caused problems with data transmission to and from the HHC. Since the units were updated nightly with important changes and updates, operator implementation of proper procedure was imperative.


Notable alumni

* John Shaw Billings * Rattan Chand * W. Edwards Deming *
Davis Rich Dewey Davis Rich Dewey (April 7, 1858December 13, 1942) was an American economist and statistician. He was born at Burlington, Vermont. Like his well-known younger brother, John Dewey, he was educated at the University of Vermont and Johns Hopkins Uni ...
* Halbert L. Dunn *
Murray Feshbach Murray Feshbach (August 8, 1929 – October 25, 2019) was an American scholar focusing on the demographics of the Soviet Union and demographics of Russia, including population, health, and environment. He was a Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wil ...
*
Robert Groves Robert Martin Groves (born September 27, 1948) is an American sociologist and expert in survey methodology who has served as the Provost of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. since August 2012. He also served as the Director of the Unit ...
* Henry Gannett * Morris H. Hansen *
Joseph Adna Hill Joseph Adna Hill (1860–1938) was an American statistician, born at Stewartstown, New Hampshire. Hill was descended from "an elite, old-line New England family," and attended many well-regarded educational institutions: after graduating from P ...
* Herman Hollerith *
Leslie Kish Leslie Kish (born László Kiss, July 27, 1910 – October 7, 2000) was a Hungarian- American statistician and survey methodologist.. Reprint of an obituary from ''International Statistical Institute (ISI) Newsletter'', Volume 25, No. 73. Life ...
* John Wesley Langley * Bernard Malamud * Thomas Commerford Martin * Warren Mitofsky * Ivan Petrof * Cyrus Guernsey Pringle *
Richard M. Scammon Richard Montgomery Scammon (July 17, 1915 – April 27, 2001) was an American author, political scientist and elections scholar. He served as Director of the U.S. Bureau of the Census from 1961 to 1965. Afterwards, he worked for decades direc ...
* Thelma Strabel * Howard Sutherland


See also

* List of U.S. states and territories by population * List of metropolitan statistical areas * List of United States cities by population *
List of United States counties and county equivalents This article lists the 3,243 counties and county equivalents of the United States. The 50 states of the United States are divided into 3,007 ''counties'', political and geographic subdivisions of a state; 236 other local governments and geograph ...
* United States Office of Management and Budget **
Primary statistical area The United States federal government defines and delineates the nation's metropolitan areas for statistical purposes, using a set of standard statistical area definitions. the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) defined and delineated 39 ...
(
list A ''list'' is any set of items in a row. List or lists may also refer to: People * List (surname) Organizations * List College, an undergraduate division of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America * SC Germania List, German rugby union ...
) **
Combined statistical area Combined statistical area (CSA) is a United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB) term for a combination of adjacent metropolitan (MSA) and micropolitan statistical areas (µSA) across the 50 US states and the territory of Puerto Ric ...
(
list A ''list'' is any set of items in a row. List or lists may also refer to: People * List (surname) Organizations * List College, an undergraduate division of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America * SC Germania List, German rugby union ...
) ** Core-based statistical area (
list A ''list'' is any set of items in a row. List or lists may also refer to: People * List (surname) Organizations * List College, an undergraduate division of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America * SC Germania List, German rugby union ...
) ***
Metropolitan statistical area In the United States, a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) is a geographical region with a relatively high population density at its core and close economic ties throughout the area. Such regions are neither legally incorporated as a city or to ...
(
list A ''list'' is any set of items in a row. List or lists may also refer to: People * List (surname) Organizations * List College, an undergraduate division of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America * SC Germania List, German rugby union ...
) *** Micropolitan statistical area (
list A ''list'' is any set of items in a row. List or lists may also refer to: People * List (surname) Organizations * List College, an undergraduate division of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America * SC Germania List, German rugby union ...
) ** List of United States urban areas * PATCOB * Title 13 of the United States Code * Title 15 of the Code of Federal Regulations * Director of the United States Census Bureau * Data.gov * USAFacts


References


External links


United States Census Bureau

Census Bureau
in the Federal Register
USCB population estimates

USCB History




* * * ;72-year rule
PDF of Availability of Census Records About Individuals

PDF of Letter from Census Bureau Director, Roy V. Peel to Archivist of the United States, Wayne C. Grover, concerning the 72-year lapse between collection and release of decennial census records

PDF of Letter from Archivist of the United States, Wayne C. Grover to Census Bureau Director Roy V. Peel, in reply to Peel's August 1952 letter
{{Authority control 1903 establishments in Washington, D.C. United States census Government agencies established in 1903 National statistical services Organizations based in Washington, D.C. Statistical organizations in the United States Federal Statistical System of the United States