TIP SHEET: University of Virginia Experts Available to Comment on the U.S. Census

March 24, 2010 — April 1 is National Census Day. Two demographers at the University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service can comment on the census. They are Qian Cai, director of the workforce and demographics group, and Susan Perrone Clapp, a statistician formerly employed with the Census Bureau.

Here are some facts about the census, provided by Cai and Clapp.

• Most households in the United States received the 2010 Census form in mid-March. The census asks respondents to report on the people who live in their household as of April 1. 

• The census, conducted once every 10 years, counts how many people live in the United States. It is used to determine the number of Congressional representatives allocated to each state, and provides data considered when establishing voting districts. Census data is also an element in calculations allocating more than $400 billion in federal funds annually to communities to provide services for children, the elderly, the unemployed and many other local needs.

• The 2010 Census form is short. It asks 10 questions – including name, phone number, age, gender, race, Hispanic origin, relationship to householder, number of people in the household and housing tenure – and takes about 10 minutes to complete. No socio-economic questions, such as educational attainment, income, disability status and commuting activity, are included.

• There is no longer a long form of the decennial Census. That data is now collected by the Census Bureau through its American Community Survey.

• The decennial census information is confidential. By law, the U.S. Census Bureau cannot share respondents' answers with anyone – not the IRS, not the FBI, not the CIA and not with any other government agency. 

• One person from every household should fill out the form and mail it back as soon as possible. Returning the form by mail helps the Census Bureau keep costs down. Between April and July 2010, census takers will visit households that did not return a form by mail. 

• The final population counts are required by law to be delivered by Dec. 31 to the president for apportionment of congressional representation. In February and March 2011, states will receive data to be used in redistricting.

• In less than a year, Virginians will know how many people live in the commonwealth and what the age, gender, racial and ethnic composition is in each community.

U.Va. demographers expect to find:
•    An increase of nearly 1 million people in Virginia since the 2000 census;
•    Population growth concentrating in three major metropolitan areas: Northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton Roads;
•    Increasing racial and ethnic diversity, especially among the younger population;
•    Large growth of the Hispanic population;
•    Population decline in some rural communities; and
•    Increasing proportions of elderly populations in inner cities and rural counties, such as on the Eastern Shore, Northern Neck, Southside and Southwest Virginia.

The decennial census is mandated in Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which was, in large part, written by James Madison at Montpelier, in Orange County.

REPORTERS: For information on the 2010 census, visit the census Web site or contact Qian Cai, qian.cai@virginia.edu, 434-982-5581 or Susan Perrone Clapp, susan.clapp@virginia.edu, 434-982-5690.