Cities Count: Preparing for the 2020 Census

Family on porch
Family on porch

"Municipal governments have an important relationship with the census — both as consumers of the invaluable data it gathers and as partners in ensuring the complete and accurate count of our cities." 

The National League of Cities (NLC) supports the Census Bureau’s mission to “serve as the nation’s leading provider of quality data about its people and economy.” We also understand the many ways in which Census Bureau data impact a city. These resources have been assembled to provide local leaders with objective information about and resources to prepare for the upcoming 2020 Census. 

Read Our Census Action Guide

Why the Census Matters to Cities

  • An accurate census helps ensure fair representation at all levels of government. The primary constitutional purpose for the decennial census is to determine how many congressional representatives each state will have for the next decade and to ensure equal representation in the redistricting process. For instance, congressional districts and the boundaries of your city ward are determined by census numbers.
  • The census directly impacts the funding your city will receive over the next decade. Population counts and statistics derived from both the decennial census and other surveys determine the annual allocation of more than $800 billion in federal investment across states, counties and cities. While many financial assistance programs and block grants, like the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), are distributed to cities based on American Community Survey (ACS) statistics, the benchmark for all ACS data is the decennial census.
  • The census provides the most reliable and complete data for research, decision making and planning for both the public and private sectors. Academic institutions, medical facilities, businesses of all sizes and all levels of government rely on census data to inform their research, decision making and planning. While the decennial census only asks a few basic questions, the population counts and demographic data that it produces serve as a benchmark for most other current statistics that help us gain deeper insights into our communities.

Census Resources for Cities

Census MAG Cover
Census MAG Cover