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Focus on Facts

A new Focus on Facts is available: Why Do We Still Conduct a Costly Census of All U.S. Residents Every Ten Years? by Dr. Mark Salling


Who hasn’t heard that the 2020 Census is upon us? The anticipation and anguish about missing large numbers of persons (again!) is in the news and on social media daily. The Census Bureau is posting daily news releases. Public officials and nonprofit leaders are rallying to get the word out about the importance of the decennial Census. Last year we saw widespread political opposition to the Trump administration’s attempt to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census form because opponents argued it would decrease participation within the Hispanic community.

The case for accurate data about all U.S. residents has been made by many – it is needed for redistricting political boundaries; for accurate allocation of federal, state and local funds; for planning of infrastructure projects; for budgeting public services, for better marketing studies by the business community; and many others. But it is costly, estimated at over $15.6 billion by the U.S. Government Accounting Office, up from $12.3 billion for the 2010 Census.

More about Focus on Facts:

Focus on Facts provides brief, thought-provoking information about urban policy issues based on research conducted at the Maxine Goodman Levin School of Urban Affairs. Our purpose is to stimulate additional discussion and debate. The series includes a “Map of the Month” as well as other formats. Questions or comments about specific topics can be addressed via email to the author(s). Questions or comments about the series of publications can be addressed to the Focus on Facts editor, Associate Dean Bob Gleeson at

This and subsequent reports in this series are available on the Focus on Facts newsletter page.