April 1 is U.S. Census Day, when the federal government works to count every person across the United States and five of its territories.
Population counts are used to allocate seats in the U.S. House of Representatives to states. The 435 seats in the House are divided up by the population of each state. The larger the population of a state, the more seats it receives.
A state’s population is also used to allocate federal funding for a variety of programs.
Federal officials are urging everyone to fill out the census online, by phone or mail. Census invitations were mailed earlier in March.
The census is mandated every 10 years by the U.S. Constitution.
Who is counted? Here are directions from the 2020 Census website, 2020census.gov:
“You should be counted where you are living and sleeping most of the time as of April 1, 2020. If you are responding for your home, count everyone who lives and sleeps there most of the time as of April 1, 2020. This includes young children, foster children, roommates, and any family members or friends who are living with you, even temporarily.
“Please note that if someone is staying with you temporarily on April 1 due to the COVID-19 situation, they should be counted where they usually live. This includes college students, who should still be counted at school, even if they are home early because of the COVID-19 situation. If they live in student housing, the college will count them. If they live off campus, they should respond for the off-campus address and include any roommates or other people living there.”