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Behind the Numbers: Why Does the Census Matter?

The final count will shape the future of the Centennial State.

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The U.S. census may seem like simple arithmetic, but it takes more than basic math skills to count to 327 million. Before the government mails out surveys this month to begin its once-a-decade tally, we break down the numbers to show the legwork involved and how the exercise could affect Colorado in the years to come.

72%

Share of Coloradans who responded to the U.S. Census Bureau’s written survey in 2010. To find the idlers (and, we assume, anarchists), federal employees spend months knocking on doors. Ten years ago, the entire process resulted in Colorado having an estimated overcount of 14,100 people, mostly college students tallied by parents and while at school, folks with second homes, and out-of-staters.

201,062

Census blocks found throughout Colorado. The bureau created 11 million of these geographical units—used to break people into easier-to-count tracts—across the United States, and each can contain up to 3,200 citizens. In 2010, nearly five million blocks, including 96,037 in the Centennial State, contained no people whatsoever.

[Read more: How the 2020 Census Could Impact Colorado]

$13 billion

The average estimated federal funding given annually to Colorado in recent years. This figure was determined by stats gathered during the previous census—population, but also factors like miles of roads and number of school-age children—and goes to dozens of programs, from Medicaid to school lunch programs to Section 8 housing. California received the most per year ($115.1 billion) and Wyoming the least ($1.4 billion).

~13,000

Employees the U.S. Census Bureau will hire to follow up with Colorado residents who don’t fill out the survey. Canvassers earn around $20 an hour and only ask simple questions about age, gender, and race; if someone inquires about your Social Security number, it’s likely a scam.

1

New member likely to be added to the Colorado congressional delegation as a result of the census, boosting the number of Centennial State lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives to eight. The 435 seats in the House are divvied up by each state’s share of the national population.

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