Every 10 years, as mandated by the US constitution, the federal government undertakes a census of the population to determine the allocation of seats held by each state in the House of Representatives. The next federal census will begin on April 1, 2020.
In addition to determining federal representation, the census is used to distribute federal funding to states and local governments. In California, more than 70 federal programs that benefit our residents use census data and population counts as part of their funding formulas, including the Community Development Block Grant Program, as well as funding for roads, school programs and lunches, children’s health insurance, Head Start and foster care.
The census data is also used to redraw federal and state legislative district boundaries.
For these reasons, a complete and accurate census count is essential to the well-being of our state and all Californians.
Because a complete and accurate count is essential, the League created this resource page to help our members get information and updates about the 2020 Census and California cities.
The 2020 Census presents many unique challenges for states across the nation, including the first-ever online census, the potential inclusion of a specific citizenship question, intensifying immigrant fears and distrust, an increase in public distrust of the government and security of information, and a decrease in federal funding to conduct the Census, to name a few. As every state grapples with these federal challenges, this situation is exacerbated in California, where 75 percent of Californians are considered “hard to count,” which means they have been historically undercounted in the Census. Communities of color, children, and rural residents fall within historically undercounted populations.
California cities can play an incredibly important role in helping our state prepare for and overcome these challenges. The California Government Operations Agency (GovOps) as the lead state agency on preparations and has been working closely with the League, the California Complete Count Committee, and the Senate and Assembly Select Committees on the 2020 U.S. Census to support cities and their efforts to encourage full participation in the 2020 federal census.
The California Census Office is encouraging public awareness of the 2020 Census and has requested the League to encourage its members to adopt a resolution recognizing the importance of the 2020 US Census.
U.S. Census Bureau Resources
Additional Online Resources