As mandated by the Constitution, the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a decennial count of population and households to determine the apportionment of Congressional seats, electoral votes and dispersement of federal funds to states.
In 2010, the bureau is seeking information such as age, race, ethnicity and housing status from residents at more than 130 million households in the 50 states and U.S. territories. The information is collected initially from responses to a 10-page mailed questionnaire or by follow-up interviews by census workers.
On March 15, the bureau distributed questionnaires to 8.4 million Texas households, about 10 percent of which were hand delivered to rural areas and locations damaged by Hurricane Ike in 2008. The bureau expected to hire as many as 84,000 temporary workers to help with the count in Texas.
Unlike previous censuses, the bureau in 2010 is forgoing the "long form" questionnaire, used to collect income and education data by sampling one in six households. The bureau instead is relying on the American Community Survey, a rolling study of the country conducted in years between the decennial count.
For the first time, the bureau also is automatically sending bilingual forms to neighborhoods where clusters of residents speak Spanish and don't speak English "very well." More than 13 million such households are on the list nationwide. The majority are in Texas.