Why We Conduct the Decennial Census

The framers of the Constitution of the United States chose population to be the basis for sharing political power, not wealth or land: “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers…” - The Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 2. A census aims to count the entire population of a country, and at the location where each person usually lives. The census asks questions of people in homes and group living situations, including how many people live or stay in each home, and the sex, age and race of each person. The goal is to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place.

How the Census Benefits Your Community

Federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities are based on population totals and breakdowns by sex, age, race and other factors. Your community benefits the most when the census counts everyone. When you respond to the census, you help your community gets its fair share of the more than $675 billion per year in federal funds spent on schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other vital programs. Businesses use census data to decide where to build factories, offices and stores, and this creates jobs. Developers use the census to build new homes and revitalize old neighborhoods. Local governments use the census for public safety and emergency preparedness. Residents use the census to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality-of-life and consumer advocacy.

How the 2020 Census will Invite Everyone

Nearly every household will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census from either a postal worker or a census worker. Depending on how likely your area is to respond online, you’ll receive either an invitation encouraging you to respond online or an invitation along with a paper questionnaire.  Every household will have the option of responding online, by mail, or by phone. What to Expect in the Mail: When it’s time to respond, most households will receive an invitation in the mail. Most areas of the country are likely to respond online, so most households will receive a letter asking you to go online to complete the census questionnaire. READ MORE

How to Register a National Complete Count Committee

Partners should submit a Commitment Letter to the Chicago Regional Census Center, on official stationery, stating their intention to form a CCC and providing the liaison’s name and contact information. They should also be encouraged to state why forming a CCC is important to their community. The letter should be addressed to: Chicago Regional Census Center, c/o Mrs. Marilyn A. Sanders, 175 W. Jackson Blvd., Suite 600, Chicago, IL 60604. Once the Commitment Letter is received, the organization and contact are recorded in the Census database as having committed to forming/hosting a CCC for Census 2020. A partnership specialist will then contact the organization to set up CCC training or provide an existing training to attend. At the training, the Partnership will provide a Census operational overview and discuss the structure and mission of the CCC, as well as strategies for developing an outreach plan to reach those least likely to self-respond to their Census questionnaires. 

Important Census News

Most Live in the South and West, a Dramatic Shift From a Century Ago - The number of foreign-born residents in the United States has ebbed and flowed over the past 165 years. By 2016, 13.5 percent of the U.S. population was foreign-born, a level that rivaled historic highs. But what has changed considerably over time is who the foreign-born are and where they have dispersed across the country, according to U.S. Census Bureau research. FULL STORY

Is the Survey You Received Legitimate?



50 Ways Census Data is Used


What is asked on the Census?


Is the Survey You Received Legitimate?


Complete Count Committee Resources


Illinois: Register Your Complete

Committee Locations


State of Illinois
Census Data




Contact Sherrie Taylor, CGS liaison to the Census & Interim Lead of the State Data Center in Illinois, at taylor@niu.edu or (815) 753-0925 with questions or information requests.