Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution mandates that a census take place every 10 years in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and all U.S. territories.  The decennial census is a full population count of all individuals living in the United States in that given year. The first Census was taken in 1790, and this year—2020, the Census will take place again.

The Census is important because it ensures fair representation in Congress, aids with redistricting, and dictates funding for federal programs, including for schools and hospitals for states and localities throughout the country. Census data is also very significant for research purposes, including by NAR in its assessments of current and future housing needs, trends, and demands.

According to a recent George Washington University Institute of Public Policy report, titled “Counting for Dollars 2020: The Role of the Decennial Census in the Geographic Distribution of Federal Funds,” $1.5 trillion federal dollars are allocated annually to states and localities for various purposes and programs, including federal funding for libraries, schools, hospitals, roads, and other federal programs and services.

The Census is administered and managed by the U.S. Census Bureau, which is a bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce.  The population count is conducted when households complete the American Community Survey, which asks the following:

  • The number of people living or staying in the home;
  • Whether the home is owned or rented;
  • The age, gender, and race of each person living in the home;
  • Information about particular ethnic groups that may be represented in the home; and
  • The relationship between each person living in the home.

The Census survey can be completed online, by phone, or by mail.  The physical survey that can be completed by mail will be offered in English and Spanish. The online and phone survey will be available in 12 languages. The Census Bureau will also provide print and video guides to answering the Census in 59 languages.

All survey responses provided to the Census Bureau by respondents are confidentially protected by federal law, and cannot be misused or disclosed.  The Census Bureau can only report on statistical data as a result of people completing the American Community Survey. Ensuring privacy and security is a top priority of the Census Bureau.

For REALTORS®, participation in this year’s census is an investment  in your business and community.

For additional information about the 2020 Census, please visit


NAR 2020 Census Webinar

On March 4, NAR hosted a webinar with the U.S. Census Bureau on the importance of this year's decennial census and how census data are used.

Watch the recorded webinar

Download the presentation slides (PDF: 2 MB)

REALTOR® Party Resources for State and Local Associations

Please visit to find out the ways that your association can be engaged on this issue.

REALTORS® can sign up for REALTOR® Party Mobile Alerts using the form below or by texting the word REALTORS to 30644.