Census Data is Completely Confidential
- All responses to Census Bureau surveys and censuses are confidential and protected under Title 13 of the U.S. Code. Under this law, the Census Bureau is required to keep respondent information confidential and will never share a respondent’s personal information with immigration enforcement agencies, like ICE; law enforcement agencies, like the FBI or police; or allow it to be used to determine their eligibility for government benefits. The results from any census or survey are reported in statistical format only.
- Individual records from the decennial censuses are, by law (Title 44, U.S. Code), confidential for 72 years.
- In addition, under Title 13, U.S. Code, all Census Bureau employees swear a lifetime oath to protect respondent data. It is a felony for any Census Bureau employee to disclose any confidential census information during or after employment, and the penalty for wrongful disclosure is up to 5 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $250,000.
The Many Uses of Census Data
- Annual distribution of $4 billion in federal funds back to Nebraska that are used by the state, tribal, and local governments. This distribution is based on Census population, and over a 10 year span every missed household in Nebraska results in a $51,980 loss in federal funds.
- Redistricting of state legislative districts
- Determining areas eligible for housing assistance and rehabilitation loans
- Assisting federal, tribal, state, and local governments in planning and implementing programs, services, and emergency response
- Assisting private businesses with market-based decisions
- Forecasting future transportation needs for all segments of the population
The United States began conducting a census of population and housing in 1790 and have conducted a census count every 10 years since then. The U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 2, mandates an apportionment (the process of dividing the 435 seats in the US House of Representatives among 50 states) every 10 years.
The population totals, which includes people of all ages, races, ethnic groups, citizens, and noncitizens also affect funding in your community. Approximately $675 billion in federal funding is distributed to communities each year. The data collected in the census also help decision makers know how your community is changing.