How Census Data Affects Your Community
Census data directly affect representation in Congress and presidential elections, federal spending on many important programs, compliance with federal civil rights laws, and private sector decisions on investment and location of facilities.
Every ten years, census population counts are used to reapportion the 435 seats in the House of Representatives among the states and then to draw legislative districts in the states. The number of electors each state receives for presidential elections is the number in its congressional delegation (number of representatives in the House and Senate).
In addition, census data directly affect decisions made on all matters of national and local importance, including education, employment, veterans' services, public health care, rural development, the environment, transportation, and housing. Many federal programs are statutorily required to use decennial data to develop, evaluate, and implement their programs. Federal, state, and county governments use census information to guide the annual distribution of hundreds of billions of dollars for critical services.
The data are also used to monitor and enforce compliance with civil rights statutes, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and employment, housing, lending, and education anti-discrimination laws.
More information on:
Federal Domestic Assistance [to states] Allocated on the Basis of Statistics Based on the Decennial Census (pdf) - The Brookings Institution - March 2009
Federal Funds Distributed [to federal programs] on the Basis of Statistics Based on the Decennial Census (pdf) - The Brookings Institution - February 2009