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2020 Census: Why is it important?

This guide shares information and resources about the 2020 Census.

What is Census Data Used for?

Data collected from the Census is utilized in a variety of important ways from determining Congressional representation, determining how federal funds are spent, and as historical records that people can use to trace relatives. Use this page to learn about how Census data is used and why it is important to take the Census.

Congressionl Apportionment

The population count from the Census is used to reapportion the U.S. House of Representatives. Apportionment refers to the process of dividing the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives among the 50 states. An accurate count of everyone living in your state is important to ensure that your state gets the correct amount of representatives in the House of Representatives. To learn more visit the Census Bureau's Congressional Apportionment webpage.

Watch the short video below to learn how apportionment works.


The Census Bureau releases the records from censuses to the general public after 72 years. To learn more about the Census Bureau's 72 year rule visit the Census Bureau's History webpage. Below find a list of databases you can explore that use Census data.


The population count from the Census will inform where and how billions of federal funds will be spent over the next ten years. In 2009 the Census Bureau found that more that $400 billion in federal funds were distributed using Census Bureau data. The results of the Census will directly affect things such as school lunches, Pell Grants, Highway planning and construction, Medicare, Head Start, to prepare for natural disasters, and to provide housing assistance to older adults as well as a variety of other services. If you are interested in what programs were funded using Census data view the Census Bureau's Uses of Census Bureau Data in Federal Funds Distribution document.

The Census is important because it directly affects you and the state you live in. Nevada could receive more than $20,000 for every person counted in the Census over the next ten years. These funds will help pay for infrastructure, affordable housing, healthcare, education, and more. To learn more about why the Census is important to funding Nevada visit the Nevada Census website.

Social Explorer

Social Explorer is a website that can be used to visualize and interact with census data and create maps, charts, and reports. Social Explorer allows you to explore over 500,000 data indicators and over 220 years of data for the United States from 1790 to present. Social Explorer contains data from all Decennial Censuses, the American Community Surveys, and other datasets. To use the Social Explorer website, access it through the UNLV Libraries website and make sure you are signed in with your ACE account.

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