The United States Census is a decennial census mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution, which states: "Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States ... according to their respective Numbers ... . The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years."〔Constitution of the United States〕 The United States Census Bureau (officially the Bureau of the Census, as defined in Title 13 U.S.C. § 11) is responsible for the United States Census.
The first census after the American Revolution was taken in 1790, under Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson; there have been 22 federal censuses since that time.〔 The current national census was held in 2010 and the next census is scheduled for 2020 and much of it will be done using the Internet. For years between the decennial censuses, the Census Bureau issues estimates made using surveys and statistical models, in particular, the American Community Survey.
Title 13 of the United States Code governs how the Census is conducted and how its data is handled. Information is confidential as per . Refusing or neglecting to answer the census is punishable by fines of $100, for a property or business agent to fail to provide correct names for the census is punishable by fines of $500, and for a business agent to provide false answers for the census is punishable by fines of $10,000, pursuant to -224.
The United States Census is a population census, which is distinct from the U.S. Census of Agriculture, which is no longer the responsibility of the Census Bureau. It is also distinct from local censuses conducted by some states or local jurisdictions.
Decennial U.S. Census figures are based on actual counts of persons dwelling in U.S. residential structures. They include citizens, non-citizen legal residents, non-citizen long-term visitors and illegal immigrants. The Census Bureau bases its decision about whom to count on the concept of usual residence. Usual residence, a principle established by the Census Act of 1790, is defined as the place a person lives and sleeps most of the time. The Census Bureau uses special procedures to ensure that those without conventional housing are counted; however, data from these operations are not considered as accurate as data obtained from traditional procedures.
The Census also uses hot deck imputation to assign data to housing units where occupation status is unknown. This practice has effects across many areas, but is seen by some as controversial because it may increase representation for reliably Democratic districts. However, the practice was ruled constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in ''Utah v. Evans''.
Certain American citizens living overseas are specifically excluded from being counted in the census even though they may vote. Only Americans living abroad who are "Federal employees (military and civilian) and their dependents living overseas with them" are counted. "Private U.S. citizens living abroad who are not affiliated with the Federal government (either as employees or their dependents) will not be included in the overseas counts. These overseas counts are used solely for reapportioning seats in the U. S. House of Representatives."
In the United States' recent censuses, Census Day has been April 1. However, it was previously in August, as per these instructions given to U.S. Marshals: "All the questions refer to the day when the enumeration is to commence, the first Monday in August next. Your assistants will thereby understand that they are to insert in their returns all the persons belonging to the family on the first Monday in August, even those who may be deceased at the time when they take the account; and, on the other hand, that they will not include in it infants born after that day."〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=Instructions for the 1820 US census )〕
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