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Why It Matters


The census creates a picture of who is living in the United States.

The federal government, local governments and businesses use this picture to better understand the population of our country, prioritize programs and distribute funds.

After the 2010 Census, the federal government provided DC with approximately $6 billion annually, and that number continues to grow every year based on estimated population growth.

On a local level, census data:


The federal government distributes over six billion dollars annually to the District to support vital programs based on census data.


Census data is used to update Ward and ANC boundaries to reflect population growth and movement across the District.


District agencies rely on accurate census data for budgeting, planning and policy decision-making across the city.


Residents use the census to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality-of-life and consumer advocacy.


Businesses use census data to decide where to build offices and stores--creating jobs for the community.


You’ll notice that several census questions ask about your household and where you live.In 2016, DC received over $350 million in federal funding through programs such as Section 8 housing assistance, public housing and low-income housing tax credits.


The census impacts every level of the educational journey from Pre-K to graduate or vocational school. Census data is used to allocate Federal dollars for student loans, Title 1 grants, school breakfast and lunch programs, career and vocational training, Head Start and special education grants in DC. In 2016, DC received over $250 million to support education.


Healthcare affects us all. Census data helps the government address complicated healthcare needs by allocating funding for programs that support children, aging adults, mental health needs and persons with disabilities, as well as Medicare and Medicaid. In 2016, DC received over $2 billion in federal funding for healthcare as a result of census data.


After the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau may ask follow up questions about your industry and occupation. Workforce information can help DC create more jobs and invest in the right workforce training.

Community Planning

The federal government is not the only entity that uses census data. Local businesses, community groups and local government also use census data for planning, budgeting and prioritization. DC uses census data to update Ward and ANC boundaries every 10 years.


The census improves the way you travel. Census information determines funding for transportation projects. In the District, census information directly impacts federal funding for public transportation, such as the Metro and buses and road improvements. In FY 16, DC received over $500 million in federal dollars for road and transit planning and improvements.

Youth & Childcare

When you take the 2020 US Census, you’ll notice a question about the number of children in your household. Census data collected on children helps determine how much money the government gives DC for youth-focused programs such as WIC, childcare grants, foster care grants, adoption assistance and the State Children’s Health Insurance program. In 2016, DC received $100 million in federal funding for programs supporting children as a result of Census data.

Emergency Services

Fire departments, ambulances and other emergency services are all key to ensuring Washington, DC is safe for all residents. Data from the 2020 US Census helps decision-makers allocate funds to these services.

Learn More

The census impacts you and your community at a local and national level. Explore the resources below to learn more about the importance of the 2020 US Census and how you can help ensure everyone is counted.