About The Census

Why It's Important

The fundamental goal of the U.S. Census: Count everyone once, only once, and in the right place.

For most of this nation’s history, leaders have sought to ensure that the Census was accurate, valid and reliable to fairly allocate federal funding, determine political balance, and encourage economic development in our communities. In 2020, however, we are at-risk of a serious undercount – reduced Census resources, a transition in leadership, new technology and the proposed addition of an untested citizenship question all threaten to dramatically reduce the accuracy of the count.

Our democracy – and a lot of money – is at stake.

In California, more than 70% of our population belongs to a group that has historically been undercounted in the decennial Census. The Public Policy Institute of California believes that that as many as 1.6 million Californians could be missed in the 2020 count.


Participation Rates

In 2010, California ranked 29th in the country for mail participation with a 71% return rate. Orange County saw a 75% return rate in 2010 and an 80% return rate in 2000. To view 2010 return rates by city, please click here.


Census Timeline

Learn more about the road to the 2020 Census by clicking here.

Hard-to-Count (HTC) Communities

HTC communities are those who have been previously excluded or undercounted in prior Censuses, for instance certain racial/ethnic groups and young children. Some of these groups have been historically underrepresented in the decennial Census for decades; some may experience new or increased vulnerability due to significant changes in the 2020 Census, like the push for online responses or the citizenship question fight.

As defined by the State of California, our HTC communities are:

All Census tracts in the U.S. have been assigned a HTC score, with scores ranging from 0 to 132. High scores indicate high concentrations of attributes that make enumeration difficult, increasing the likelihood of an undercount.

The Center for Urban Research of the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center has developed an interactive map of HTC districts for the 2020 Census. You can view the map here