2010 United States Census

Twenty-third Census
of the United States

The "Census 2010" logo
General information
Country United States
Date taken April 1, 2010
Total population 308,745,538
Percent change Increase 9.7%
Most populous state California (37,253,956)
Least populous state Wyoming (563,626)

The 2010 United States Census, (known as "Census 2010"), is the twenty-third and currently most recent United States national census. National Census Day, the reference day used for the census, was April 1, 2010.[1] As part of a drive to increase the count's accuracy, 635,000 temporary enumerators were hired.[2][3] The population of the United States was counted as 308,745,538,[4] a 9.7% increase from the 2000 Census.


As required by the United States Constitution, the U.S. census has been conducted every 10 years since 1790. The 2000 U.S. Census was the previous census completed. Participation in the U.S. Census is required by law in Title 13 of the United States Code.[5]

On January 25, 2010, Census Bureau Director Robert Groves personally inaugurated the 2010 Census enumeration by counting World War II veteran Clifton Jackson, a resident of Noorvik, Alaska.[6] Census forms were delivered by the U.S. Post Office beginning March 15, 2010. The number of forms mailed out or hand-delivered by the Census Bureau was approximately 134 million.[7] Although the questionnaire used April 1, 2010 as the reference date as to where a person was living, an insert dated March 15, 2010 included the following printed in bold type: "Please complete and mail back the enclosed census form today."

The 2010 Census national mail participation rate was 74%.[8] From April through July 2010, census takers visited households that did not return a form, an operation called "non-response follow-up" (NRFU).

President Obama completing his census form in the Oval Office on March 29, 2010.

In December 2010, the Census Bureau delivered population information to the president for apportionment, and in March 2011, complete redistricting data was delivered to states.[1]

Personally identifiable information will be available in 2082.[9]

Major changes

The Census Bureau did not use a long form for the 2010 Census.[10] In several previous censuses, one in six households received this long form, which asked for detailed social and economic information. The 2010 Census used only a short form asking ten basic questions:[10]

  1. How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment, or mobile home on April 1, 2010?
  2. Were there any additional people staying here on April 1, 2010 that you did not include in Question 1? Mark all that apply: (checkboxes for: children; relatives; non-relatives; people staying temporarily; none)
  3. Is this house, apartment, or mobile home – [Checkboxes for owned with a mortgage, owned free and clear, rented, occupied without rent.]
  4. What is your telephone number?
  5. What is Person 1's name? (last, first)
  6. What is Person 1's sex? (male, female)
  7. What is Person 1's age and Person 1's date of birth?
  8. Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin? (checkboxes for: "No", and several for "Yes" which specify groups of countries)
  9. What is Person 1's race? (checkboxes for 14 including "other". One possibility was "Black, African Am., or Negro".)
  10. Does Person 1 sometimes live or stay somewhere else? (checkboxes for "No", and several locations for "Yes")

The form included space to repeat some or all of these questions for up to twelve residents total.

In contrast to the 2000 census, an Internet response option was not offered, nor was the form available for download.[10][11]

Detailed socioeconomic information collected during past censuses will continue to be collected through the American Community Survey.[11] The survey provides data about communities in the United States on a 1-year or 3-year cycle, depending on the size of the community, rather than once every 10 years. A small percentage of the population on a rotating basis will receive the survey each year, and no household will receive it more than once every five years.[12]

In June 2009, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that it would count same-sex married couples. However, the final form did not contain a separate "same-sex married couple" option. When noting the relationship between household members, same-sex couples who are married could mark their spouses as being "Husband or wife", the same response given by opposite-sex married couples. An "unmarried partner" option was available for couples (whether same-sex or opposite-sex) who were not married.[13]


The 2010 census cost $13 billion, approximately $42 per capita; by comparison, the 2010 census per-capita cost for China was about US$1 and for India was US$0.40.[14] Operational costs were $5.4 billion, significantly under the $7 billion budget.[15] In December 2010 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted that the cost of conducting the census has approximately doubled each decade since 1970.[14] In a detailed 2004 report to Congress, the GAO called on the Census Bureau to address cost and design issues, and at that time, had estimated the 2010 Census cost to be $11 billion.[16]

In August 2010, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced that the census operational costs came in significantly under budget; of an almost $7 billion operational budget:[15]

Locke credited the management practices of Census Bureau director Robert Groves, citing in particular the decision to buy additional advertising in locations where responses lagged, which improved the overall response rate. The agency also has begun to rely more on questioning neighbors or other reliable third parties when a person could not be immediately reached at home, which reduced the cost of follow-up visits. Census data for about 22% of U.S. households that did not reply by mail were based on such outside interviews, Groves said.[15]


In 2005, Lockheed Martin won a six-year, $500 million contract to capture and standardize data for the census. The contract included systems, facilities, and staffing.[17] The final value of that contract was in excess of one billion dollars [18] Information technology was about a quarter of the projected $11.3 billion cost of the decennial census.[19] The use of high-speed document scanning technology, such as ImageTrac scanners developed by IBML, helped Lockheed Martin complete the project on schedule and under budget.[20]

This was the first census to use hand-held computing devices with GPS capability, although they were only used for the address canvassing operation. Enumerators (information gatherers) that had operational problems with the device understandably made negative reports. During the 2009 Senate confirmation hearings for Robert Groves, President Obama's Census Director appointee, there was much mention of contracting problems but very little criticism of the units themselves.[21] In rural areas there was a problem with transmission of data to and from the HHC. Since the units were updated nightly with important changes and reprogramming, operator implementation of proper procedure was imperative. Dramatic dysfunction and delays were caused if the units were not put into sleep mode overnight. The Census Bureau chose to conduct the primary operation, Non-Response Follow Up (NRFU), without using the handheld computing devices.[22][23]

Marketing and undercounts

Due to allegations surrounding previous censuses that poor people and non-whites are routinely undercounted, for the 2010 census, the Census Bureau tried to avoid that bias by enlisting tens of thousands of intermediaries, such as churches, charities and firms, to explain to people the importance of being counted.[7]

In April 2009, the Census Bureau announced that it intended to work with community organizations in an effort to count all illegal immigrants in the United States for the census.[24]

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) was given a contract to help publicize the importance of the census count and to encourage individuals to fill out their forms. In September 2009, after controversial undercover videos showing four ACORN staffers giving tax advice to a man and a woman posing as a prostitute, the Bureau canceled ACORN's contract.[25] Various American celebrities, including Demi Lovato and Eva Longoria,[26] were used in public service announcements targeting younger people to fill out census forms. Wilmer Valderrama and Rosario Dawson have helped spread census awareness among young Hispanics, a historically low participating ethnicity in the U.S. Census.[27] Rapper Ludacris also participated in efforts to spread awareness of the 2010 Census.[28]

The Census Bureau hired about 635,000 people to find those U.S. residents who had not returned their forms by mail; as of May 28, 2010, 113 census workers had been victims of crime while conducting the census.[3] As of June 29, there were 436 incidents involving assaults or threats against enumerators, more than double the 181 incidents in 2000; one enumerator, attempting to hand-deliver the census forms to a Hawaii County police officer, was arrested for trespassing – the officer's fellow policemen made the arrest.[2]

Some political conservatives and libertarians questioned the validity of the questions and even encouraged people to refuse to answer questions for privacy and constitutional reasons.[29] Michele Bachmann, a conservative Republican Representative from Minnesota, stated that she would not fill out her census form other than to indicate the number of people living in her household because "the Constitution doesn't require any information beyond that."[30] Former Republican Representative and Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr stated that the census has become too intrusive, going beyond the mere enumeration (i.e., count) intended by the framers of the U.S. Constitution.[31] According to political commentator Juan Williams, "Census participation rates have been declining since 1970, and if conservatives don't participate, doubts about its accuracy and credibility may become fatal."[29]

As a result, the Census Bureau undertook an unprecedented advertising campaign targeted at encouraging white political conservatives to fill out their forms, in the hope of avoiding an undercount of this group. The 2010 U.S. Census was the primary sponsor at NASCAR races in Atlanta, Bristol, and Martinsville, and sponsored the No. 16 Ford Fusion driven by Greg Biffle for part of the season, because of a marketing survey that indicated most NASCAR fans lean politically conservative.[29] It also ran an advertisement during the 2010 Super Bowl, and hired singer Marie Osmond, who is thought to have many conservative fans, to publicize the census.[29]


The 435 seats of the House grouped by state, as apportioned after the 2010 Census

The results of the 2010 census determined the number of seats that each state receives in the United States House of Representatives starting with the 2012 elections. Consequently, this affected the number of votes each state has in the Electoral College for the 2012 presidential election.

Because of population changes, eighteen states had changes in their number of seats. Eight states gained at least one seat, and ten states lost at least one seat. The final result involved 12 seats being switched.[32]

Gained four seats Gained two seatsGained one seatLost one seatLost two seats
Texas Florida Arizona
South Carolina
New Jersey
New York


Some objected to the counting of persons who are in the United States illegally.[33][34] Republican senators David Vitter and Bob Bennett tried unsuccessfully to add questions on immigration status to the census form.[7]

Organizations such as the Prison Policy Initiative argued that the census counts of incarcerated men and women as residents of prisons, rather than of their pre-incarceration addresses, skewed political clout and resulted in misleading demographic and population data.[35]

The term "Negro" was used in the questionnaire as one of the options for African Americans (Question 9. What is Person (number)'s race? ... Black, African Am., or Negro) as a choice to describe one's race. Census Bureau spokesman Jack Martin explained that "many older African-Americans identified themselves that way, and many still do. Those who identify themselves as Negroes need to be included."[36][37] The word was also used in the 2000 Census, with over 56,000 people identifying themselves as "Negro."[38]

The 2010 census contained ten questions about age, gender, ethnicity, home ownership, and household relationships. Six of the ten questions were to be answered for each individual in the household. Federal law has provisions for fining those who refuse to complete the census form.[39]

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing held a press conference on March 22, 2011 to announce that the city would challenge its census results.[40] The challenge, being led by the city's planning department, cited an inconsistency as an example showing a downtown census tract which lost only 60 housing units, but 1,400 people, implying that a downtown jail or dormitory was missed in canvassing.[41]

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg held a conference on March 27, 2011, to announce that the city would also challenge his city's census results, specifically the apparent undercounting in the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn.[42] Bloomberg said that the numbers for Queens and Brooklyn, the two most populous boroughs, are implausible.[43] According to the Census, they grew by only 0.1% and 1.6%, respectively, while the other boroughs grew by between 3% and 5%. He also stated that the census showed improbably high numbers of vacant housing in vital neighborhoods such as Jackson Heights, Queens.

The District of Columbia announced in August 2011 that it would also challenge its census results. The Mayor's Office claimed that the detailed information provided for 549 census blocks is "nonsensical", listing examples of census data that show housing units located in the middle of a street that do not actually exist. However, officials do not believe the city's total population will drastically change as a result of the challenge.[44]

Clemons v. Department of Commerce

A 2009 lawsuit, Clemons v. Department of Commerce (see also controversy and history of United States congressional apportionment), sought a court order for Congress to reapportion the House of Representatives with a greater number of members following the census, to rectify under- and over-representation of some states under the so-called 435 rule established by the Apportionment Act of 1911, which limits the number of U.S. Representatives to that number, meaning that some states are slightly underrepresented proportionate to their true population and that others are slightly overrepresented by the same standard. Had this occurred, it would have also affected Electoral College apportionment for the 2012–2020 presidential elections.[45] After the court order was not granted, the plaintiffs appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court, and on December 13, 2010, the Supreme Court vacated and remanded with instructions to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction.[46]

State rankings

The state with the highest percentage rate of growth was Nevada, while the state with the largest population increase was Texas.[47] Michigan, the 8th largest by population, was the only state to lose population (although Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, lost population as well), and the District of Columbia saw its first gain since the 1950s.[48] Note that the resident populations listed below do not include people living overseas. For Congressional apportionment, the sum of a state's resident population and its population of military personnel and federal contractors living overseas (but not other citizens overseas, such as missionaries or expatriate workers) is used.[49]

Population and population change in the United States by state
Rank State Population as of
2000 Census
Population as of
2010 Census[50]
Change Percent
1  California 33,871,648 37,253,956 3,382,308 Increase 10.0% Increase
2  Texas 20,851,820 25,145,561 4,293,741 Increase 20.6% Increase
3  New York 18,976,457 19,378,102 401,645 Increase 2.1% Increase
4  Florida 15,982,378 18,801,310 2,818,932 Increase 17.6% Increase
5  Illinois 12,419,293 12,830,632 411,339 Increase 3.3% Increase
6  Pennsylvania 12,281,054 12,702,379 421,325 Increase 3.4% Increase
7  Ohio 11,353,140 11,536,504 183,364 Increase 1.6% Increase
8  Michigan 9,938,444 9,883,640 −54,804 Decrease −0.6% Decrease
9  Georgia 8,186,453 9,687,653 1,501,200 Increase 18.3% Increase
10  North Carolina 8,049,313 9,535,483 1,486,170 Increase 18.5% Increase
11  New Jersey 8,414,350 8,791,894 377,544 Increase 4.5% Increase
12  Virginia 7,078,515 8,001,024 922,509 Increase 13.0% Increase
13  Washington 5,894,121 6,724,540 830,419 Increase 14.1% Increase
14  Massachusetts 6,349,097 6,547,629 198,532 Increase 3.1% Increase
15  Indiana 6,080,485 6,483,802 403,317 Increase 6.6% Increase
16  Arizona 5,130,632 6,392,017 1,261,385 Increase 24.6% Increase
17  Tennessee 5,689,283 6,346,105 656,822 Increase 11.5% Increase
18  Missouri 5,595,211 5,988,927 393,716 Increase 7.0% Increase
19  Maryland 5,296,486 5,773,552 477,066 Increase 9.0% Increase
20  Wisconsin 5,363,675 5,686,986 323,311 Increase 6.0% Increase
21  Minnesota 4,919,479 5,303,925 384,446 Increase 7.8% Increase
22  Colorado 4,301,261 5,029,196 727,935 Increase 16.9% Increase
23  Alabama 4,447,100 4,779,736 332,636 Increase 7.5% Increase
24  South Carolina 4,012,012 4,625,364 613,352 Increase 15.3% Increase
25  Louisiana 4,468,976 4,533,372 64,396 Increase 1.4% Increase
26  Kentucky 4,041,769 4,339,367 297,598 Increase 7.4% Increase
27  Oregon 3,421,399 3,831,074 409,675 Increase 12.0% Increase
28  Oklahoma 3,450,654 3,751,351 300,697 Increase 8.7% Increase
29  Connecticut 3,405,565 3,574,097 168,532 Increase 4.9% Increase
30  Iowa 2,926,324 3,046,355 120,031 Increase 4.1% Increase
31  Mississippi 2,844,658 2,967,297 122,639 Increase 4.3% Increase
32  Arkansas 2,673,400 2,915,918 242,518 Increase 9.1% Increase
33  Kansas 2,688,418 2,853,118 164,700 Increase 6.1% Increase
34  Utah 2,233,169 2,763,885 530,716 Increase 23.8% Increase
35  Nevada 1,998,257 2,700,551 702,294 Increase 35.1% Increase
36  New Mexico 1,819,046 2,059,179 240,133 Increase 13.2% Increase
37  West Virginia 1,808,344 1,852,994 44,650 Increase 2.5% Increase
38  Nebraska 1,711,263 1,826,341 115,078 Increase 6.7% Increase
39  Idaho 1,293,953 1,567,582 273,629 Increase 21.1% Increase
40  Hawaii 1,211,537 1,360,301 148,764 Increase 12.3% Increase
41  Maine 1,274,923 1,328,361 53,438 Increase 4.2% Increase
42  New Hampshire 1,235,786 1,316,470 80,684 Increase 6.5% Increase
43  Rhode Island 1,048,319 1,052,567 4,248 Increase 0.4% Increase
44  Montana 902,195 989,415 87,220 Increase 9.7% Increase
45  Delaware 783,600 897,934 114,334 Increase 14.6% Increase
46  South Dakota 754,844 814,180 59,336 Increase 7.9% Increase
47  Alaska 626,932 710,231 83,299 Increase 13.3% Increase
48   North Dakota 642,200 672,591 30,391 Increase 4.7% Increase
49  Vermont 608,827 625,741 16,914 Increase 2.8% Increase
 District of Columbia 572,059 601,723 29,664 Increase 5.2% Increase
50  Wyoming 493,782 563,626 69,844 Increase 14.1% Increase
   United States 281,421,906 308,745,538 27,323,632 Increase 9.7% Increase

Metropolitan rankings

These are core metropolitan rankings versus combined statistical areas. For full list with current data, go to Metropolitan Statistics.

The top 25 Metropolitan Statistical Areas of the United States of America

Rank Metropolitan Statistical Area 2010 Census Encompassing Combined Statistical Area
1 New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA Metropolitan Statistical Area 19,567,410 New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistical Area
2 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 12,828,837 Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA Combined Statistical Area
3 Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI Metropolitan Statistical Area 9,461,105 Chicago-Naperville, IL-IN-WI Combined Statistical Area
4 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area 6,426,214 Dallas-Fort Worth, TX-OK Combined Statistical Area
5 Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area 5,920,416 Houston-The Woodlands, TX Combined Statistical Area
6 Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD Metropolitan Statistical Area 5,965,343 Philadelphia-Reading-Camden, PA-NJ-DE-MD Combined Statistical Area
7 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area 5,636,232 Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA Combined Statistical Area
8 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area 5,564,635 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Port St. Lucie, FL Combined Statistical Area
9 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA Metropolitan Statistical Area 5,286,728 Atlanta–Athens-Clarke County–Sandy Springs, GA Combined Statistical Area
10 Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Metropolitan Statistical Area 4,552,402 Boston-Worcester-Providence, MA-RI-NH-CT Combined Statistical Area
11 San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 4,335,391 San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area
12 Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 4,224,851 Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA Combined Statistical Area
13 Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ Metropolitan Statistical Area 4,192,887
14 Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI Metropolitan Statistical Area 4,296,250 Detroit-Warren-Ann Arbor, MI Combined Statistical Area
15 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA Metropolitan Statistical Area 3,439,809 Seattle-Tacoma, WA Combined Statistical Area
16 Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI Metropolitan Statistical Area 3,348,859 Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN-WI Combined Statistical Area
17 San Diego-Carlsbad, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 3,095,313
18 St. Louis, MO-IL Metropolitan Statistical Area 2,787,701 St. Louis-St. Charles-Farmington, MO-IL Combined Statistical Area
19 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area 2,783,243
20 Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD Metropolitan Statistical Area 2,710,489 Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA Combined Statistical Area
21 Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area 2,543,482 Denver-Aurora, CO Combined Statistical Area
22 Pittsburgh, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area 2,356,285 Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton, PA-OH-WV Combined Statistical Area
23 Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC Metropolitan Statistical Area 2,217,012 Charlotte-Concord, NC-SC Combined Statistical Area
24 Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA Metropolitan Statistical Area 2,226,009 Portland-Vancouver-Salem, OR-WA Combined Statistical Area
25 San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area 2,142,508

City rankings

Metro rankings are more pertinent to determine economic strength of an area. However, city rankings are also included below.

2010 U.S. city population rankings[51]
Rank City State Population
1 New York  New York 8,175,133
2 Los Angeles  California 3,792,621
3 Chicago  Illinois 2,695,598
4 Houston  Texas 2,099,451
5 Philadelphia  Pennsylvania 1,526,006
6 Phoenix  Arizona 1,445,632
7 San Antonio  Texas 1,327,407
8 San Diego  California 1,307,402
9 Dallas  Texas 1,197,816
10 San Jose  California 945,942
11 Jacksonville  Florida 821,784
12 Indianapolis  Indiana 820,445
13 San Francisco  California 805,235
14 Austin  Texas 790,390
15 Columbus  Ohio 787,033
16 Fort Worth  Texas 741,206
17 Charlotte  North Carolina 731,424
18 Detroit  Michigan 713,777
19 El Paso  Texas 649,121
20 Memphis  Tennessee 646,889
21 Baltimore  Maryland 620,961
22 Boston  Massachusetts 617,594
23 Seattle  Washington 608,660
24 Washington  District of Columbia 601,723
25 Nashville  Tennessee 601,222


  1. 1 2 "Interactive Timeline". About the 2010 Census. U.S. Census Bureau. 2011. Retrieved June 17, 2011.
  2. 1 2 Niesse, Mark (July 5, 2010). "Census worker taken to court for trespassing". The Seattle Times. Associated Press. Retrieved July 6, 2010. The resident continued to refuse to take the Census, and [census worker Russell] Haas said he waited outside a chain-link fence while the resident called his co-workers at the Hawai‘i County Police Department. When police arrived, instead of asking the resident to accept the forms as required by federal law, the officers crumpled the papers into Haas' chest and handcuffed him, Haas said....Haas said he told officers that it was his duty to leave the Census forms with the resident, and that he would leave as soon as he did it. The officers were enforcing state law and had not been trained on the federal Census law, Hawaii County Police Maj. Sam Thomas said.
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  22. Harris Corporation Selected for $600 Million U.S. Census Bureau Field Data Collection Automation Program
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  27. Rosario Dawson, Wilmer Valderrama Encourage Latinos To Complete 2010 Census In New PSA's
  28. Ludacris 2010 Census Campaign In New York: KillerHipHop.com
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  42. NYC To File Formal Challenge to 2010 Census under Count Question Resolution Process
  43. On the 2010 Census Results
  44. DeBonis, Mike (August 10, 2011). "District challenges its 2010 Census count". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 14, 2011.
  45. http://apportionment.us/Complaint.pdf; http://apportionment.us/case.html
  46. Supreme Court orders for December 13, 2010
  47. Texas Adds Four Congressional Seats as State's Hispanic Population Grows
  48. USA Today 2010 Census
  49. Congressional Apportionment
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  51. "American FactFinder". Factfinder2.census.gov. Retrieved July 10, 2013.

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