​​​​Why is the Census Important?

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Census figures are used to distribute $675 billion each year in federal funding.

What is Census Data Used For?


Census data determines the number of seats California receives in the U.S. House of Representatives and how many Electoral College votes it receives

Census information is used to determine boundaries for California state Assembly and Senate legislative districts. 

It determines boundaries for Sacramento County supervisorial districts, City council districts, School board districts; Park and Recreation, Fire and Water Districts Board Director districts, and many more! ​

Sacramento County’s current representation includes (partial list):

  • 55 Electoral College Votes (for the entire state of California)
  • 4 US Representative Districts
  • 6 State Senator Districts
  • 5 State Assembly Districts
  • 5 County Supervisorial Districts
  • 14 School Board Districts
  • 13 Park and Recreation Districts
  • 12 Water Districts
  • 6 Fire Districts


Census data is used to distribute $675 billion in federal funding. Sacramento County receives more than $1/2 billion each year for programs that benefit schools, hospitals, public works, agriculture, roads, transit and more. For every person missed during the 2020 Census count, Sacramento County could lose $1,000​ per person, per year, for 10 years, in federal funding.

Programs that use census data to determine funding affect virtually everyone in Sacramento County. These include:

Sacramento County Department of Transportation

  • Elk Grove Florin Rd Widening Elder Creek to Florin Road
  • Franklin Blvd Bridge Replacement at Lost Slough 
  • Elverta Road /Watt Ave to Dutch Haven Blvd improvement
  • Florin Area New Street Light Project
  • Garfield Ave Improvements - Whitney Ave to Madison Ave
  • Hazel Ave Sidewalk Improvements - Central Ave to Elm Ave

Sacramento County District Attorney

  • Crime Victim Assistance
  • Victim Witness Assistance
  • Human Trafficking Advocacy Program
  • Unserved/Underserved Victim Advocacy/Outreach
  • Violence Against Women Grants
  • Paul Coverdell Forensic Sciences Improvement Grant Program

Sacramento County Sheriff's Department

  • Internet Crimes Against Children
  • Wild Horse Training & Adoption Program
  • Boating & Waterways (patrol & enforcement)
  • Urban Areas Security Initiative (terrorism prevention)
  • High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program
  • Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (drug treatment for inmates)

Sacramento County Department of Child, Adult and Family Services

  • Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program
  • Hospital Emergency Preparedness Program
  • Teen Pregnancy/STD Prevention Program​
  • Dental Disease Prevention & Dental Treatment Program
  • Promoting Safe & Stable Families Program (foster care & adoption assistance)

Sacramento Department of Human Assistance

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (food stamps)

Other census-funded programs within California include:

  • Medicare Part B
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Small business development centers
  • Supportive housing for the elderly
  • Housing Choice Vouchers  (Sec. 8 housing)
  • School lunch programs
  • Community mental health services
  • Disabled veteran's outreach programs

Read more about how federal funds are distributed in California in this George Washington University report. 


Census data is used to better understand community make-up and needs, engage with residents, plan roads, schools, transportation, public safety, emergency preparedness, hospitals, new residential developments and parks that create healthy and livable neighborhoods. 

Real estate developers and regional planners use the census to do community plans, plan new homes and urban land development, and provide transit and locate services closer to neighborhoods needing them the most. Sacramento County census statistics from 2017: 

  • 569,705 Housing units (...and growing)
  • 4,828 housing building permits in 2017
  • 26 Minutes is the average commute time for County residents

Census information provides a variety of economic data and other statistics that businesses, researchers and policymakers depend on to make decisions, including the numbers that underpin the forecasts for Social Security beneficiaries.

  • 13.7% of Sacramento County’s population is 65 years or older 

Local government officials use Census data to ensure public safety, provide emergency services and plan new schools and hospitals. 


Census data plays an essential role in commerce. The U.S. Census Bureau is the official source of statistical data tracking the national economy. Sacramento County's current census and business data:

  • 110,172 Companies located in Sacramento County (2012)
  • Nearly 30,000 employment locations
  • $15 Million total retail sales (2016)​

Businesses use census data to locate factories, warehouses, restaurants, and stores, to recruit employees, and to conduct market research. This data helps businesses when determining where to open new stores and expand operations, or even what items to put on their shelves.

Census data help companies decide where to locate distribution centers to best serve their customers, where to expand or locate new stores and where they have the best chance of seeing a high return on investment.