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Census 2010

The United States Census is held every ten years to gather basic information about the country's residents. The 2010 Census is a short form -- consisting of just ten questions about each U.S. residence, including: number of occupants; ownership/rental status; and the gender, race, and date of birth of each occupant. The American Community Survey (ACS) is a longer questionnaire that is used to gather and disseminate more detailed information on an annual basis. According to the Census Bureau, the 2010 Census will help communities receive more than $400 billion in federal funds each year for things like:

In March 2010 the Brookings Institution released Counting for Dollars: The Role of the Decennial Census in the Distribution of Federal Funds (PDF) which provides allocation data for states, counties and metropolitan areas to illustrate how the Census is a crucial part of determining budgets throughout the United States.

Census 2010 Follow-Up from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)

How will Census 2010 affect community transportation?

Census information is used by many government agencies when making policies and distributing funds. Population estimates derived from the census and the American Community Survey may influence the distinctions between "urban" and "rural" communities, as well as tribal designations. Additionally, local decision-making about services and infrastructure may rely on census results and ACS data. For example, age data from the census helps communities identify trends in local demographics when planning for youth and senior transportation. In 2008 the National Cooperative Highway Research Program released A Guidebook for Using American Community Survey Data for Transportation Planning, which explores incorporating the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) data into the transportation planning processes at national, state, metropolitan, and local levels.

In 2003, the U.S. DOT's Federal Highway Administration issued some guidance on how DOT applies the Census Bureau's designations of urbanized areas (UZA) and urban clusters (UC) based on the 2000 Census. While the US Department of Transportation has no direct role in the designation of these areas, they are critical to the administration of the surface transportation program. A March 2010 blog entry by the Washington Department of Transportation offers further details on how Census 2010 may affect transportation projects, representation in Congress, and access to federal funding.

As a result of updated census methodology in 2010, there will be new tribal subdivisions, specifically changes to tribal tracts and tribal subgroups, as designated in information products that will result from Census 2010 and the 2010 American Community Survey. One helpful resource on these topics is A Compass for Understanding and Using American Community Survey Data: What Users of Data for American Indians and Alaska Natives Need to Know (PDF).

The Association for American State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO)'s Standing Committee On Planning Census Data Work Group is currently working on the following:

Read the latest update from AASHTO's census group.

What resources are available for transit professionals to learn about the census?

The Census 2000 Transportation Planning Products (CTPP) are a set of special tabulations from the U.S. Census Bureau designed for transportation planners. CTPP contain tabulations by place of residence, place of work, and for flows between home and work. The data are available at various geographic levels including county, place (incorporated city or Census-Designated Place), census tract, and Traffic Analysis Zone (TAZ). Profile sheets include data from both 1990 and 2000 for some basic characteristics such as household size, vehicle availability, means of transportation to work, and travel time to work. View AASHTO's Census 2010 Transportation Planning Products (CTPP) Program Overview (PDF).

How can I learn more?

Census Acronyms to Know


American Community Survey


American Fact Finder


American National Standards Institute


Association of Public Data Users


Census County Division


Census-Designated Places


Coverage Follow-Up


Census Transportation Planning Products


Federal Information Processing Standard


Geographic Information System


Geographic Names Information System


Handheld Computers




Local Update of Census Addresses


Master Address File


Margin of Error


Non-Response Follow-Up


Public Use Microdata Sample


Questionnaire Assistance Center


Service-Based Enumeration


Traffic Analysis Zone


Topographically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing