Importance of the Census
The 2020 Census is the nation’s only chance to get an accurate count of its population this decade. In addition to enumeration, the U.S. Census Bureau’s programs and surveys (i.e., the American Community Survey) provide an abundance data on the characteristics and condition of our population and economy.
The American Community Survey (ACS) is the go-to source of statistics related to poverty, families, healthcare coverage, educational attainment, disability, and more. Other surveys from the Census Bureau collect data on housing, business and industry, and public and government spending.
Federally funded programs
Federal funds, grants, and support to Pennsylvania and its counties and communities are based on population totals and breakdowns by sex, age, race and other factors. Pennsylvania and its communities benefit most when all Pennsylvanians are counted. When you respond to the census, you help Pennsylvania and its communities get its fair share of federal funds to spend on schools, hospitals, roads, public works, and other programs.
Pennsylvania received nearly $26.8 billion in federal funding toward programs like Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP, CHIP, WIC as well as grants for education and highway construction. That’s equal to over $2,000 per citizen in Pennsylvania.
The Decennial U.S. Census counts every resident in the United States. Participation in the Census is your constitutional duty under Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution which requires the enumeration of the United States’ population each decade.
Also, Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment mandates apportionment of representatives to be based on the population according to their respective state. See our “Fair political representation” section to learn more about how the census impacts our representation.
Fair political representation
Representation in the House of Representatives is apportioned based on the population size of each state as enumerated by the Decennial Census. After the 1790 census, the 1793 to 1803 delegation was assigned 13 seats in House, and ensuing delegations grew in size over the next century as Pennsylvania’s population grew.
National representation for Pennsylvania peaked at 36 seats from 1913 to 1933. Subsequent delegations have a decreasing number of seats; today, Pennsylvania has half of the representatives it did from 1913 to 1933. Despite a modest increase in population from 2000 to 2010, the state lost its 19th seat in the House and is on track to lose at least one more in 2020.