February 20, 2020

What is the Census?

The U.S. Census Bureau conducts a census of the United States every 10 years, going all the way back to 1790. The data collected during the census is used in a variety of ways that affect decisions regarding community services provided to residents and the distribution of more than $675 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year. This funding supports local programs for schools, health care, community assistance, infrastructure and other important needs. The census also determines the number of representatives each state will have in Congress.

The census counts every person – both adults and children – living in the United States. This information helps monitor changes in communities and is used to identify and address public service needs such as health care, education, public safety, housing, food, and rural access to broadband.

Starting March 12, 2020, each Alabama household will receive a postcard from the U.S. Census Bureau with instructions for how to complete the census. You may respond in three ways: online, telephone or traditional paper form. Click here for a sample copy of the letter.

Some households, mainly in rural areas, will receive a traditional paper form during the first mailing while other households, mainly in metro areas, will receive an invitation to respond online first. By mid-April, everyone who has not yet responded will receive a paper form. Click here to see what type of mailing your area will receive.