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United States Census Data

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Methodological Evolution

The census includes everyone living in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Amercan Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

In every decennial census since 1940, two questionnaires have been used to collect information: a "short form" with only basic questions such as age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin; and a "long form" with the basic short-form questions plus about 50 additional questions on socioeconomic and housing characteristics. Only a subset of households received the long-form questionnaire—about one in every six in 2000. In 2010 the traditional longform Census was supplemented with the short-form-census - The American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS collects long-form-type information throughout the decade rather than only once every 10 years.

The ACS

The American Community Survey (ACS) is ongoing with 1, 3 and 5-yr data sets for planning investments and services to distribute federal and state funds. The ACS asks about basic demographics, family, relationships, income, benefits, health insurance, education, veteran status, disabilities, work location and commute.

Redistricting Data (P.L. 94-171)

Public Law 94-171, enacted by Congress in December 1975, requires the Census Bureau to provide state legislatures with the small area census population tabulations necessary for legislative redistricting. The law also specifies:

The states choosing to participate in this voluntary program will define the small areas for which specific data tabulations are desired and submit these areas following timelines established by the Census Bureau. These small areas include census block boundaries, voting districts, and state legislative districts.

The Census Redistricting Data Program provides states the opportunity to delineate voting and state legislative districts and to suggest census block boundaries for use in future 2020 Census redistricting data tabulations

More Census Data Resources