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Census 2020: Uses of Census Data

Uses of Census Data

The primary reason for the Census is reapportionment, the process of dividing seats in Congress among the 50 states. However, Census data can be used by government and businesses for a variety of reasons. Below is a list of how Census Data is used that is organized by topic (Business, Community Development, Economics, Funding, Government, Planning, Public Safety, Research and Other. This list is based on Appendix A: 50 Ways Census Data are Used from the Census 2020 Complete Count Committee Guide.


  • Developing “intelligent” maps for government and business.
  • Delivering goods and services to local markets.
  • Distributing catalogs and developing direct mail pieces.
  • Locating factory sites and distribution centers.
  • Making business decisions.
  • Understanding consumer needs.
  • Understanding labor supply.

Community Development

  • Analyzing local trends.
  • Attracting new businesses to state and local areas.
  • Determining areas eligible for housing assistance and rehabilitation loans.
  • Development of rural areas.


  • Establishing fair market rents and enforcing fair lending practices.
  • Publishing economic and statistical reports about the United States and its people.
  • Spotting trends in the economic well-being of the nation.
  • Developing adult education programs.


  • Directing funds for services for people in poverty.
  • Directing services to children and adults with limited English proficiency.
  • Distributing over $675 billion annually in federal funds and even more in state funds.
  • Developing assistance programs for American Indians and Alaska Natives.


  • Reapportioning seats in the House of Representatives.
  • Drawing federal, state, and local legislative districts.
  • Decision making at all levels of government.
  • Developing “intelligent” maps for government and business.
  • Drawing school district boundaries.
  • Planning budgets for government at all levels.
  • Planning future government services.


  • Designing facilities for people with disabilities, the elderly, or children.
  • Forecasting future housing needs for all segments of the population.
  • Forecasting future transportation needs for all segments of the population.
  • Planning for faith-based organizations.
  • Planning for hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, and the location of other health services.
  • Planning for public transportation services.
  • Planning for school projects.
  • Planning health and educational services for people with disabilities.
  • Planning investments and evaluating financial risk.
  • Planning outreach strategies.
  • Planning urban land use.

Public Safety

  • Assessing the potential for spread of communicable diseases.
  • Creating maps to speed emergency services to households in need of assistance.
  • Designing public safety strategies.
  • Estimating the number of people displaced by natural disasters.


  • Distributing medical research.
  • Facilitating scientific research.
  • Planning and researching for media as background for news stories.
  • Providing genealogical research.
  • Researching historical subject areas.


  • Evaluating programs in different geographic areas.
  • Providing proof of age, relationship, or residence certificates provided by the Census Bureau.
  • Setting a standard for creating both public and private sector surveys.

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