United States Census Bureau

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The United States Census Bureau (officially Bureau of the Census as defined in Title 13 U.S.C. ยง 11) is the government agency that is responsible for the United States Census. It also gathers other national demographic and economic data. As part of the United States Department of Commerce, the Census Bureau serves as a leading source of data about America's people and economy.[1]

The most visible role of the Census Bureau is to perform the official decennial (every 10 years) count of people living in the US. One core result is to decide the number of seats each state is allowed in the House of Representatives.[1] The agency director is a political appointee selected by the President of the United States.


Legal mandate

The Constitution of the United States (Article I, section II) directs that the population be enumerated at least once every ten years and the resulting counts used to set the number of members from each state in the House of Representatives and, by extension, in the Electoral College. The Census Bureau now conducts a full population count every 10 years in years ending with a 0 (zero) and uses the term "decennial" to describe the operation. Between censuses, the Census Bureau makes population estimates and projections.[2] In addition, Census data directly affect how more than $400 billion per year in federal and state funding is allocated to communities for neighborhood improvements, public health, education, transportation and much more. The Census Bureau is mandated with fulfilling these obligations: the collecting of statistics about the nation, its people, and economy. The Census Bureau's legal authority is codified in Title 13 of the United States Code. In addition, the Census Bureau also conducts surveys on behalf of various federal government and local government agencies on topics such as employment, crime, health, consumer expenditures, and housing. Within the bureau, these are known as "demographic surveys" and are conducted perpetually between and during decennial (10-year) population counts. The Census Bureau also conducts economic surveys of manufacturing, retail, service, and other establishments and of domestic governments.

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