The United States Census counts every resident in the United States; our Constitution mandates a census of our population every 10 years.
Census 2010 will determine how we spend over $400 billion yearly in federal funds. The census itself will cost about $6 billion. Those funds are designated for our critical community services: hospitals, schools, public works projects, and emergency services, for example. Participation in the Census means contributing to the statistics that can determine whether your neighborhood gets a park, a new elementary school and many other services and facilities.
The Census was enacted as the statistical basis for representative democracy; House seats were apportioned according to the measured population. When the Census measures significant changes in population, that can lead to redistricting, changes in political borders for your city ward or Congressional district. This can quickly and profoundly change the power balance in the House. A recent analysis by a political data consulting firm, Polidata, forecasts Census 2010 will translate to the loss of at least 1 seat each House seats for Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The same poll predicts a gain of at least 1 seat for each of these states: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Texas and Utah. That’s significant change in the House of Representatives.
1790: The first census: federal marshals go house-to-house, unannounced. The census data: the name of the head of household and a count of other occupants. It took 18 months to count the population of 3.9 million people.
1810: The census begins to measure manufacturing.
1840 Congress asks to gather statistics on social issues like "idiocy" and mental illness. The census form now has 80 questions.
1850: More detailed information about every person is now gathered, not just the head of household. The number of slaves in America reaches 3,204,313.
1920: For the first time, more Americans live in cities than rural areas.
1930: The Great Depression prompts the inclusion of questions measuring income, unemployment and migration.
1950: The first non-defense computer is used to process census data.
1970: People of Hispanic or Spanish descent asked to identify themselves as such.
1980: After the 1980 count, the Census Bureau faces 54 lawsuits, many by civil rights groups, charging it with improper and unconstitutional methods of counting.
2000: The US Census is promoted by a professional ad campaign (costing $167 million).
The Census measures everyone including undocumented immigrants. The US Census Bureau estimates we have a population of 12 million undocumented immigrants who need social services and representation, and need to be counted to get those services.