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2010 United States Census

The Twenty-third United States Census, known as Census 2010, the 2010 Census, or the Census of 2010, is the current national census of the United States. National Census Day was April 1, 2010 and is the reference date used in enumerating (counting) individuals.[1] Directors of the 2010 Census made an emphasis on getting an accurate count, an emphasis that included the hiring of 635,000 temporary enumerators.[2][3] The population of the United States was counted as 308,745,538,[4] a 9.7% increase from the 2000 Census.



As required by the United States Constitution, the U.S. census has been conducted every 10 years since 1790. The 2000 U.S. Census was the previous census completed. Participation in the U.S. Census is required by law in Title 13 of the United States Code.[5]

On January 25, 2010, Census Bureau Director Robert Groves personally inaugurated the 2010 Census enumeration by counting World War II veteran Clifton Jackson, a resident of Noorvik, Alaska.[6] Census forms were delivered by the U.S. Post Office beginning March 15, 2010. The number of forms mailed out or hand-delivered by the Census Bureau was about 134 million.[7] Although the questionnaire used April 1 as the reference date as to where a person was living, an insert dated March 15, 2010 included the following printed in bold type: "Please complete and mail back the enclosed census form today."

The 2010 Census national mail participation rate was 74%.[8] From April through July 2010, census takers visited households that did not return a form, an operation called "non-response follow-up" (NRFU).

President Obama]] completing his census form in the Oval Office on March 29, 2010. In December 2010, the Census Bureau delivered population information to the president for apportionment, and in March 2011, complete redistricting data was delivered to states.[1]

Major changes

The Census Bureau did not use a long form for the 2010 Census.[9] In several previous censuses, one in six households received this long form, which asked for detailed social and economic information. The 2010 Census used only a short form asking ten basic questions:[9]

  1. How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment, or mobile home on April 1, 2010?
  2. Were there any additional people staying here on April 1, 2010 that you did not include in Question 1? Mark all that apply: (checkboxes for: children; relatives; non-relatives; people staying temporarily; none)
  3. Is this house, apartment, or mobile home [Checkboxes for owned with a mortgage, owned free and clear, rented, occupied without rent.]
  4. What is your telephone number?
  5. What is Person 1's name? (last, first)
  6. What is Person 1's sex? (male, female)
  7. What is Person 1's age and Person 1's date of birth?
  8. Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin? (checkboxes for: "No", and several for "Yes" which specify groups of countries)
  9. What is Person 1's race? (checkboxes for 14 including "other". One possibility was "Black, African Am., or Negro".)
  10. Does Person 1 sometimes live or stay somewhere else? (checkboxes for "No", and several locations for "Yes")

The form included space to repeat some or all of these questions for up to twelve residents total.

In contrast to the 2000 census, an Internet response option was not offered, nor was the form available for download.[9][10]

Detailed socioeconomic information collected during past censuses will continue to be collected through the American Community Survey.[10] The survey provides data about communities in the United States on a 1-year or 3-year cycle, depending on the size of the community, rather than once every 10 years. A small percentage of the population on a rotating basis will receive the survey each year, and no household will receive it more than once every five years.[11]

In June 2009 the U.S. Census Bureau announced that it would count same-sex married couples. However, the final form did not contain a separate "same-sex married couple" option. When noting the relationship between household members, same-sex couples who are married could mark their spouses as being "Husband or wife", the same response given by opposite-sex married couples. An "unmarried partner" option was available for couples (whether same-sex or opposite-sex) who were not married.[12]


The 2010 census cost $13 billion, approximately $42 per capita; by comparison, the 2010 census per-capita cost for China was about US$1 and for India was US$0.40.[13] Operational costs were $5.4 billion, significantly under the $7 billion budget.[14] In December 2010 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted that the cost of conducting the census has approximately doubled each decade since 1970.[13] In a detailed 2004 report to Congress, the GAO called on the Census Bureau to address cost and design issues, and at that time, had estimated the 2010 Census cost to be $11 billion.[15]

In August 2010 Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced that the census operational costs came in significantly under budget; of an almost $7 billion operational budget:[14]

  • $650 million was saved in the budget for the door-to-door questioning (NRFU) phase because 72% of households returned mailed questionnaires;
  • $150 million was saved because of lower-than-planned costs in areas including Alaska and tribal lands; and
  • the $800 million emergency fund was not needed.

Locke credited the management practices of Census Bureau director Robert Groves, citing in particular the decision to buy additional advertising in locations where responses lagged, which improved the overall response rate. The agency also has begun to rely more on questioning neighbors or other reliable third parties when a person could not be immediately reached at home, which reduced the cost of follow-up visits. Census data for about 22% of U.S. households that did not reply by mail were based on such outside interviews, Groves said.[14]


In 2005 Lockheed Martin won a six-year, $500 million contract to capture and standardize data for the census. The contract includes systems, facilities, and staffing. Information technology was about a quarter of the projected $11.3 billion cost of the decennial census.[16] This was the first census to use hand-held computing devices with GPS capability, although they were only used for the address canvassing operation. The Census Bureau chose to conduct the primary operation, Non-Response Follow Up (NRFU), without using the handheld computing devices.[17][18]

Marketing and undercounts

Due to allegations surrounding previous censuses that poor people and people of color are routinely undercounted, for the 2010 census, the Census Bureau tried to avoid that bias by enlisting tens of thousands of intermediaries, such as churches, charities and firms, to explain to people the importance of being counted.[7]

In April 2009 the Census Bureau announced that it intended to work with community organizations in an effort to count all illegal immigrants in the United States for the census.[19]

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) was given a contract to help publicize the importance of the census count and to encourage individuals to fill out their forms. In September 2009, after controversial undercover videos showed four ACORN staffers giving possibly illegal tax advice to a man and woman posing as a pimp and prostitute, the Bureau canceled ACORN's contract.[20] Various American celebrities, including Demi Lovato and Eva Longoria,[21] were used in public service announcements targeting younger people to fill out census forms. Wilmer Valderrama and Rosario Dawson have helped spread census awareness among young Hispanics, a historically low participating ethnicity in the U.S. Census.[22] Rapper Ludacris also participated in efforts to spread awareness of the 2010 Census.[23]

The Census Bureau hired about 635,000 people to find those U.S. residents who had not returned their forms by mail; as of May 28, 2010, 113 census workers have been victims of crime while conducting the census.[3] As of June 29, there were 436 incidents involving assaults or threats against enumerators, more than double the 181 incidents in 2000; one enumerator, attempting to hand-deliver the census forms to a Hawaii County police officer, was arrested for trespassing the officer's fellow policemen made the arrest.[2]

Some political conservatives and libertarians questioned the validity of the questions and even encouraged people to refuse to answer questions for privacy and constitutional reasons.[24] Michele Bachmann, a conservative Republican Congresswoman from Minnesota, stated that she would not fill out her census form other than to indicate the number of people living in her household because "the Constitution doesn't require any information beyond that."[25] Former Republican Representative and Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr stated that the census has become too intrusive, going beyond mere enumeration (i.e., count) intended by the framers of the U.S. Constitution.[26] According to political commentator Juan Williams, "Census participation rates have been declining since 1970, and if conservatives don't participate, doubts about its accuracy and credibility may become fatal."[24]

As a result, the Census Bureau undertook an unprecedented advertising campaign targeted at encouraging white political conservatives to fill out their forms, in the hope of avoiding an undercount of this group. The 2010 U.S. Census was the primary sponsor at NASCAR races in Atlanta, Bristol, and Martinsville, and sponsored the No. 16 Ford Fusion driven by Greg Biffle for part of the season, because of a marketing survey that indicated most NASCAR fans lean politically conservative.[24] It also ran an advertisement during the 2010 Super Bowl, and hired singer Marie Osmond, who is thought to have many conservative fans, to publicize the census.[24]

2012 election

The results of the 2010 census determined the number of seats that each state receives in the United States House of Representatives starting with the 2012 elections. Consequently, this affected the number of votes each state has in the Electoral College for the 2012 presidential election.

Because of population changes, eighteen states had changes in their number of seats. Eight states gained at least one seat, and ten states lost at least one seat.[27]

Gained four seats Gained two seats Gained one seat Lost one seat Lost two seats
Texas Florida Arizona
South Carolina
New Jersey
New York


Some object to the counting of persons who are in the United States illegally.[28][29] Republican senators David Vitter and Bob Bennett tried unsuccessfully to add questions on immigration status to the new form.[7]

Organizations such as the Prison Policy Initiative argue that the census counts of incarcerated men and women as residents of prisons, rather than of their pre-incarceration addresses, skewed political clout and resulted in misleading demographic and population data.[30]

The term "Negro" is used in the questionnaire (Question 9. What is Person (number)'s race? ... Black, African Am., or Negro) as a choice to describe one's race. Census Bureau spokesman Jack Martin explained that "many older African-Americans identified themselves that way, and many still do. Those who identify themselves as Negroes need to be included."[31][32] The word was also used in the 2000 Census, with over 56,000 people identifying themselves as "Negro."[33]

The 2010 census contains ten questions about age, gender, ethnicity, home ownership, and household relationships. Six of the ten questions are intended to be answered by each individual in the household. Current federal law has provisions for fining those who refuse to complete the census form.[34]

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing held a press conference on March 22, 2011 to announce that the city would challenge the city's census results.[35] The challenge, being led by the city's planning department, cited an inconsistency as an example showing a downtown census tract which lost only 60 housing units, but 1,400 people, implying that a downtown jail or dormitory was missed in canvassing.[36]

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg held a conference on March 27, 2011, to announce that the city would also challenge his city's census results, specifically the apparent undercounting in the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn.[37] Bloomberg said that the numbers for Queens and Brooklyn, the two most populous boroughs, are implausible.[38] According to the Census, they grew by only 0.1% and 1.6%, respectively, while the other boroughs grew by between 3% and 5%. He also stated that the census showed improbably high numbers of vacant housing in vital neighborhoods such as Jackson Heights, Queens.

The District of Columbia announced in August 2011 that it would also challenge its census results. The Mayor's Office claimed that the detailed information provided for 549 census blocks is "nonsensical", listing examples of census data that show housing units located in the middle of a street that do not actually exist. However, officials do not believe the city's total population will drastically change as a result of the challenge.[39]

Clemons v. Department of Commerce

A 2009 lawsuit, Clemons v. Department of Commerce (see also United States congressional apportionment), sought a court order for Congress to reapportion the House of Representatives with a greater number of members following the census, to rectify under- and over-representation of some states under the so-called 435 rule established by the Apportionment Act of 1911, which limits the number of U.S. Representatives to that number, meaning that some states are slightly underrepresented proportionate to their true population and that others are slightly overrepresented by the same standard. Had this occurred, it would have also affected Electoral College apportionment for the 2012 2020 presidential elections.[40] After the court order was not granted, the plaintiffs appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court, and on December 13, 2010, the Supreme Court vacated and remanded with instructions to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction.[41]

From February, 2009, the non-partisan watchdog organization served as an online repository for criticism about 2010 Census processes.

State rankings

The state with the highest percentage rate of growth was Nevada, while the state with the largest population increase was Texas.[42] Michigan, the 8th largest by population, was the only state to lose population (although Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, lost population as well), and the District of Columbia saw its first gain since the 1950s.[43]

Population as of
2000 Census
Population as of
2010 Census[44]
1 33,871,648 37,253,956 3,382,308 10.0%
2 20,851,820 25,145,561 4,293,741 20.6%
3 18,976,457 19,378,102 401,645 2.1%
4 15,982,378 18,801,310 2,818,932 17.6%
5 12,419,293 12,830,632 411,339 3.3%
6 12,281,054 12,702,379 421,325 3.4%
7 11,353,140 11,536,504 183,364 1.6%
8 9,938,444 9,883,640 -54,804 -0.6%
9 8,186,453 9,687,653 1,501,200 18.3%
10 8,049,313 9,535,483 1,486,170 18.5%
11 8,414,350 8,791,894 377,544 4.5%
12 7,078,515 8,001,024 922,509 13.0%
13 5,894,121 6,724,540 830,419 14.1%
14 6,349,097 6,547,629 198,532 3.1%
15 6,080,485 6,483,802 403,317 6.6%
16 5,130,632 6,392,017 1,261,385 24.6%
17 5,689,283 6,346,165 656,822 11.5%
18 5,595,211 5,988,144 393,716 7.0%
19 5,296,486 5,773,552 477,066 9.0%
20 5,363,675 5,686,986 323,311 6.0%
21 4,919,479 5,303,925 384,446 7.8%
22 4,301,261 5,029,196 727,935 16.9%
23 4,447,100 4,779,736 332,636 7.5%
24 4,012,012 4,625,364 613,352 15.3%
25 4,468,976 4,533,372 64,396 1.4%
26 4,041,769 4,339,367 297,598 7.4%
27 3,421,399 3,831,074 409,675 12.0%
28 3,450,654 3,751,351 300,697 8.7%
29 3,405,565 3,574,097 168,532 4.9%
30 2,926,324 3,046,355 120,031 4.1%
31 2,844,658 2,967,297 122,639 4.3%
32 2,673,400 2,915,918 242,518 9.1%
33 2,688,418 2,853,118 164,700 6.1%
34 2,233,169 2,763,885 530,716 23.8%
35 1,998,257 2,700,551 702,294 35.1%
36 1,819,046 2,059,179 240,133 13.2%
37 1,808,344 1,852,994 44,650 2.5%
38 1,711,263 1,826,341 115,078 6.7%
39 1,293,953 1,567,582 273,629 21.1%
40 1,211,537 1,360,301 148,764 12.3%
41 1,274,923 1,328,361 53,438 4.2%
42 1,235,786 1,316,470 80,684 6.5%
43 1,048,319 1,052,567 4,248 0.4%
44 902,195 989,415 87,220 9.7%
45 783,600 897,934 114,334 14.6%
46 754,844 814,180 59,336 7.9%
47 626,932 710,231 83,299 13.3%
48 642,200 672,591 30,391 4.7%
49 608,827 625,741 16,914 2.8%
50 572,059 601,723 29,664 5.2%
51 493,782 563,626 69,844 14.1%
  281,421,906 308,745,538 27,323,632 9.7%

City rankings

2010 U.S. City Population Rankings[45]
Rank City State Population
1 New York New York 8,175,133
2 Los Angeles California 3,792,621
3 Chicago Illinois 2,695,598
4 Houston Texas 2,099,451
5 Philadelphia Pennsylvania 1,526,006
6 Phoenix Arizona 1,445,632
7 San Antonio Texas 1,327,407
8 San Diego California 1,307,402
9 Dallas Texas 1,197,816
10 San Jose California 945,942
11 Jacksonville Florida 821,784
12 Indianapolis Indiana 820,445
13 San Francisco California 805,235
14 Austin Texas 790,390
15 Columbus Ohio 787,033
16 Fort Worth Texas 741,206
17 Charlotte North Carolina 731,424
18 Detroit Michigan 713,777
19 El Paso Texas 649,121
20 Memphis Tennessee 646,889
21 Baltimore Maryland 620,961
22 Boston Massachusetts 617,594
23 Seattle Washington 608,660
24 Washington District of Columbia 601,723
25 Nashville Tennessee 601,222


External links

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