Here’s some information about the census, a count of US residents that takes place every 10 years. The Census Bureau is part of the Department of Commerce.
Latest population information.
2020 Census – US population – 331,449,281, an increase of 7.35% since 2010.
2010 Census – US population – 308,745,538, a 9.7% increase since 2000.
2000 Census – US Population – 281,421,906
The census is mandated by the US Constitution. “The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within ten years thereafter, as shall be prescribed by law.” – Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution.
Census results determine how federal funds are distributed to localities.
The data helps determine the number of seats each state holds in the US House of Representatives.
1790 – The first census is taken by the US Marshals and their assistants at a cost of $44,000. The population is estimated at 3.9 million. Residents are free white males 16 years of age or older, free white males under 16, free white females, other free persons, and slaves.
1820 – More detailed employment information is collected because respondents are asked to classify their jobs by industry: agriculture, commerce, or manufacturing. A question on citizenship (number of non-naturalized domestic aliens) appears for the first time.
1840 – Questions about education, vocation and industry are added.
1850 – Marshals begin collecting “social statistics,” including information on taxes, schools, crime, and wages.
1870 – The Census Bureau removes its slave survey five years after the ratification of the 13th Amendment that ended slavery. A basic counting speed machine is used.
1890 – An electric tabulation system is used for the first time.
January 1931 – In response to the Great Depression, Congress orders a special unemployment census to assess the severity of the crisis.
1950 – Americans abroad are counted for the first time.
1960 – The census questionnaire is being sent out en masse for the first time. Computers process almost all data.
1970 – The population of Hispanic individuals, of any race, is counted as a whole for the first time.
1980 – The census begins by obtaining information about race through self-identification. After the 1980 census, 52 lawsuits were filed against the Census Bureau for a variety of reasons, including the number of minorities, the influx of undocumented immigrants, and some operational problems at the Census Bureau. Demographic analysis later shows that the census decreased the population by 1.2% and African Americans by 3.7% more than any other minority group.
1990 – The Census Bureau is introducing a program called S-Night (streets/shelters), a one-night survey to count homeless people in major cities, building on previous efforts to count vagrants. Many newspapers refer to S-night as the “homeless census”.
2000 – Census data are mainly published on the Internet for the first time.
2005 – The Census Bureau begins collecting data for the American Community Survey, an annual survey that lists the demographic, economic and housing characteristics of municipalities with populations of 20,000 or more.
December 14, 2010 – The first multi-year estimates based on American Community Survey data are released.
March 26, 2018 – The Department of Commerce has announced that the issue of citizenship will be included in the census again. The amendment was requested by the Department of Justice in an effort to enforce the Voting Rights Act. The question of citizenship was included in most censuses between 1820 and 1950, according to the Commerce Department. Civil rights groups oppose the change because undocumented people may choose not to participate if their citizenship is in question, leaving a significant portion of the population uncounted.
March 27, 2018 – California has filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the addition of the citizenship question.
March 28, 2018 – The NAACP is filing a lawsuit alleging the Census Bureau is underfunded for the 2020 census, which it believes will be an undercount.
April 3, 2018 – New York’s attorney general, along with 18 attorneys general, six cities and the bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors, is filing a lawsuit challenging the addition of the citizenship question.
October 22, 2018 – The Supreme Court blocks testimony from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in a federal court case challenging his citizenship.
January 15, 2019 – A New York federal judge has upheld a proposal to reintroduce the citizenship question.
February 1, 2019 – The Census Bureau announces it will move forward with plans to test a citizenship question in the middle of the year while federal courts consider the legality of the question.
February 15, 2019 – The Supreme Court announces that it will take up the case on the citizenship issue.
March 6, 2019 – A federal judge in California issues an opinion blocking the citizenship question.
April 1, 2019 – Associate Census Director Al Fontenot says the bureau has prepared both paper and electronic versions of the survey for 2020. One version includes the citizenship question and one version has no question. Separately, President Donald Trump is expressing frustration with the ongoing lawsuit, the tweet that the count would be “pointless” and a waste of money without the question of citizenship.
April 2, 2019 – American FactFinder, the Census Bureau’s data dissemination tool, is retiring on March 31, 2020, after nearly 20 years. A new centralized approach to data dissemination is introduced through data.census.gov.
April 5, 2019 – A federal judge in Maryland issues a 119-page opinion blocking the citizenship question.
April 23, 2019 – The Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the citizenship case.
June 27, 2019 – The Supreme Court issues a 5-4 ruling that blocks the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. In response, Trump tweets He asked lawyers if the census could be delayed until the government provides additional information to the Supreme Court for a “final and decisive decision”. The narrow ruling does not prevent the panel from asking about citizenship. The bench prevents the question from being presented to the court.
July 2, 2019 – The Trump Administration says it won’t ask about citizenship on the census. In a statement, Ross says the office is printing the census forms without question, and that he respects the Supreme Court, but disagrees with the ruling.
July 3, 2019 – Trump tweets The Department of Commerce is indeed making progress on the citizenship issue, although it has not specified the next steps. He describes the news about the cancellation of the citizenship question as incorrect and false.
July 11, 2019 – Trump is issuing an executive action to allow the Commerce Department to obtain citizenship data through other means, filing an effort to add a question on citizenship status to the 2020 census, abandoning requests to continue the case last week despite a Supreme Court order blocking it. .
July 16, 2019 – New York federal judge Jesse Furman issues an order permanently blocking the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question in any form to the 2020 census.
January 21, 2020 – The first count of the 2020 census begins in Toksook Bay, Alaska.
March 18, 2020 – The Census Bureau has suspended 2020 census field operations for two weeks to protect the health of its employees and the public during the coronavirus pandemic.
March 27, 2020 – The bureau announces that as of March 20, interviews for the 2020 personal census are being eliminated to slow the spread of the coronavirus, even though field workers will advise participants “when feasible.”
May 4, 2020 – The desk announces a restart of in-person interviews in certain geographic areas.
May 18, 2020 – The bureau is extending the 2020 census period from July 31 to October 31 to “ensure a complete and accurate count of all communities.”
July 11, 2020 – The President issues Executive Order 13880, excluding undocumented immigrants from the 2020 Census. The order directs the Department of Commerce to obtain citizenship data through other means than the census.
July 21, 2020 – Trump issues “memorandum to exclude illegal aliens from distribution base after 2020 census”. This excludes undocumented immigrants from being counted during apportionment, where congressional seats are divided between states. Advocacy groups and others plan to challenge the order in court.
July 24, 2020 – New York State and the New York Immigration Coalition, along with other states, local governments and advocacy groups, are filing two joint lawsuits challenging its efforts to exclude undocumented immigrants from the count. A judgment of September 10 declared the memorandum illegal. The appeal was filed on September 16.
August 3, 2020 – The office announces that the field data collection will be completed a full month earlier than originally planned. To be counted, households must complete the survey by September 30, rather than October 31, as announced in May when plans were adjusted due to the pandemic. Advocacy groups raise objections that minorities and the poor will be marginalized.
September 5, 2020 – California judge Lucy H. Koh has ordered the Trump administration to temporarily stop “deleting or altering any operations in the census tract.” The order applies nationwide and will remain in effect until September 17.
September 10, 2020 – A panel of federal judges in New York has blocked officials from carrying out Trump’s directive to exclude undocumented immigrants from the calculation used to apportion congressional seats among states. The administration filed an appeal against the order to the Supreme Court a month later.
September 17, 2020 – Judge Koh extends a temporary restraining order blocking the Census Bureau from halting efforts to count the US population. It is extended until September 24 or until the court issues a decision on the preliminary injunction.
September 25, 2020 – Koh ordered field workers to continue counting households that did not respond until October 31, a date set by officials after changes due to the coronavirus pandemic. The administration appeals.
September 28, 2020 – Ross has announced plans to complete the 2020 census on October 5. This is more than three weeks earlier than expected and against the court’s reset end date of October 31st. Ross asked Census Bureau officials whether the earlier dates would effectively allow them to produce a final set of numbers during Trump’s current term, according to an internal email released the next day as part of a lawsuit.
October 13, 2020 – The Supreme Court is upholding the Trump administration’s request to halt the census count while it appeals a lower court’s order. The Census Bureau announces that the count will end on October 15.
April 26, 2021 – The US Census Bureau releases new population totals.