2010 United States census
The United States census of 2010 was the twenty-third United States national census. National Census Day, the reference day used for the census, was April 1, 2010.[1] The census was taken via mail-in citizen self-reporting, with enumerators serving to spot-check randomly selected neighborhoods and communities. 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. This was the first census in which all states recorded a population of over half a million people as well as the first in which all 100 largest cities recorded populations of over 200,000.
Twenty-third census
of the United States
← 2000April 1, 20102020  →

Seal of the U.S. Census Bureau

2010 U.S. census logo
General information
CountryUnited States
Total population308,745,538 ( 9.7%)
Most populous ​stateCalifornia (37,253,956)
Least populous ​stateWyoming (563,826)
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 of persons living in the United States 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] More than 120 million census forms were delivered by the U.S. Post Office beginning March 15, 2010.[7] The number of forms mailed out or hand-delivered by the Census Bureau was approximately 134 million on April 1, 2010.[8] 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%.[9] From April through July 2010, census takers visited households that did not return a form, an operation called "non-response follow-up" (NRFU).
In December 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau delivered population information to the U.S. President for apportionment, and later in March 2011, complete redistricting data was delivered to states.[1]
Personally identifiable information will be available in 2082.[10]
Major changes
The Census Bureau did not use a long form for the 2010 census.[11] 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:[11]
  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.[11][12]
Detailed socioeconomic information collected during past censuses will continue to be collected through the American Community Survey.[12] 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.[13]
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.[14]
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.[15] Operational costs were $5.4 billion, significantly under the $7 billion budget.[16] In December 2010 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted that the cost of conducting the census has approximately doubled each decade since 1970.[15] 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.[17]
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:[16]
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.[16]
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.[18] The final value of that contract was in excess of one billion dollars.[19] Information technology was about a quarter of the projected $11.3 billion cost of the decennial census.[20] 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.[21]
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.[22] 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.[23][24]
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.[8]
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][needs update] 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 former 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 seatsGained two seatsGained one seatLost one seatLost two seats
South Carolina
New Jersey
New York
Some objected to the counting of persons who are in the United States illegally.[33][34] Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and Bob Bennett (R-UT) tried unsuccessfully to add questions on immigration status to the census form.[8]
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]
NYC 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 does 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
Main article: 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.[clarification needed] 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
See also: List of U.S. states and territories by population
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
RankStatePopulation as of
2000 census
Population as of
2010 census[50]
3 New York18,976,45719,378,102401,6452.1%
5 Illinois12,419,29312,830,632411,3393.3%
7 Ohio11,353,14011,536,504183,3641.6%
9 Georgia8,186,4539,687,6531,501,20018.3%
 North Carolina
11 New Jersey8,414,3508,791,894377,5444.5%
13 Washington5,894,1216,724,540830,41914.1%
14 Massachusetts6,349,0976,547,629198,5323.1%
17 Tennessee5,689,2836,346,105656,82211.5%
18 Missouri5,595,2115,988,927393,7167.0%
 South Carolina
26 Kentucky4,041,7694,339,367297,5987.4%
27 Oregon3,421,3993,831,074409,67512.0%
33 Kansas2,688,4182,853,118164,7006.1%
 New Mexico
37 West Virginia1,808,3441,852,99444,6502.5%
38 Nebraska1,711,2631,826,341115,0786.7%
40 Hawaii1,211,5371,360,301148,76412.3%
 New Hampshire
 Rhode Island
46 South Dakota754,844814,18059,3367.9%
 North Dakota
49 Vermont608,827625,74116,9142.8%
 District of Columbia572,059601,72329,6645.2%
  United States281,421,906308,745,53827,323,6329.7%
Metropolitan rankings
See also: List of metropolitan statistical areas
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

RankMetropolitan statistical area2010 censusEncompassing combined statistical area
1New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA Metropolitan Statistical Area19,567,410New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistical Area
2Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area12,828,837Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA Combined Statistical Area
3Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI Metropolitan Statistical Area9,461,105Chicago-Naperville, IL-IN-WI Combined Statistical Area
4Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area6,426,214Dallas-Fort Worth, TX-OK Combined Statistical Area
5Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD Metropolitan Statistical Area5,965,343Philadelphia-Reading-Camden, PA-NJ-DE-MD Combined Statistical Area
6Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area5,920,416Houston-The Woodlands, TX Combined Statistical Area
7Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area5,636,232Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA Combined Statistical Area
8Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area5,564,635Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Port St. Lucie, FL Combined Statistical Area
9Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA Metropolitan Statistical Area5,286,728Atlanta–Athens-Clarke County–Sandy Springs, GA Combined Statistical Area
10Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Metropolitan Statistical Area4,552,402Boston-Worcester-Providence, MA-RI-NH-CT Combined Statistical Area
11San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area4,335,391San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area
12Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI Metropolitan Statistical Area4,296,250Detroit-Warren-Ann Arbor, MI Combined Statistical Area
13Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area4,224,851Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA Combined Statistical Area
14Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ Metropolitan Statistical Area4,192,887
15Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA Metropolitan Statistical Area3,439,809Seattle-Tacoma, WA Combined Statistical Area
16Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI Metropolitan Statistical Area3,348,859Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN-WI Combined Statistical Area
17San Diego-Carlsbad, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area3,095,313
18St. Louis, MO-IL Metropolitan Statistical Area2,787,701St. Louis-St. Charles-Farmington, MO-IL Combined Statistical Area
19Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area2,783,243
20Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD Metropolitan Statistical Area2,710,489Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA Combined Statistical Area
21Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area2,543,482Denver-Aurora, CO Combined Statistical Area
22Pittsburgh, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area2,356,285Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton, PA-OH-WV Combined Statistical Area
23Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA Metropolitan Statistical Area2,226,009Portland-Vancouver-Salem, OR-WA Combined Statistical Area
24Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC Metropolitan Statistical Area2,217,012Charlotte-Concord, NC-SC Combined Statistical Area
25San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area2,142,508
City rankings
See also: List of United States cities by population
RankCityStatePopulationLand area
(square miles)
Population density
(per square mile)
1New YorkNew York8,175,133302.627,016.3Northeast
2Los AngelesCalifornia3,792,621468.78,091.8West
7San AntonioTexas1,327,407460.92,880.0South
8San DiegoCalifornia1,307,402325.24,020.3West
10San JoseCalifornia945,942176.55,359.4West
13San FranciscoCalifornia805,23546.917,169.2West
16Fort WorthTexas741,206339.82,181.3South
17CharlotteNorth Carolina731,424297.72,456.9South
19El PasoTexas649,121255.22,543.6South
24WashingtonDistrict of Columbia601,72361.09,864.3Northeast
30Las VegasNevada583,756135.84,298.6West
31Oklahoma CityOklahoma579,999606.4956.5South
32AlbuquerqueNew Mexico545,852187.72,908.1West
36Long BeachCalifornia462,25750.39,190.0West
37Kansas CityMissouri459,787315.01,459.6Midwest
39Virginia BeachVirginia437,994249.01,759.0South
41Colorado SpringsColorado416,427194.52,141.0West
43RaleighNorth Carolina403,892142.92,826.4South
46San JuanPuerto Rico395,32647.98,253.1
53New OrleansLouisiana343,829169.42,029.7South
58Santa AnaCalifornia324,52827.311,887.5West
59Saint LouisMissouri319,29461.95,158.2Midwest
61Corpus ChristiTexas305,215160.61,900.5South
68Saint PaulMinnesota285,06852.05,482.1Midwest
69NewarkNew Jersey277,14024.211,452.1Northeast
70GreensboroNorth Carolina269,666126.52,131.7South
71BuffaloNew York261,31040.46,468.1Northeast
75Fort WayneIndiana253,691110.62,293.8Midwest
76Jersey CityNew Jersey247,59714.816,729.5Northeast
77Saint PetersburgFlorida244,76961.73,967.1South
78Chula VistaCalifornia243,91649.64,917.7West
84Winston-SalemNorth Carolina229,617132.41,734.3South
86Baton RougeLouisiana229,49376.92,984.3South
87DurhamNorth Carolina228,330107.42,126.0South
94North Las VegasNevada216,961101.32,141.8West
99RochesterNew York210,56535.85,881.7Northeast
100San BernardinoCalifornia209,92459.23,546.0West
See also
  1. ^ a b "Interactive Timeline". About the 2010 Census. U.S. Census Bureau. 2011. Archived from the original on December 20, 2010. Retrieved June 17, 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Census worker taken to court for trespassing". New York Post. Associated Press. July 5, 2010. Archived from the original on January 7, 2017. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 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.
  3. ^ a b "US Census Takers Attacked on the Job". National Ledger. May 28, 2010. Archived from the original on May 31, 2010. Retrieved May 30, 2010.
  4. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau Announces 2010 Census Population Counts – Apportionment Counts Delivered to President" (Press release). United States Census Bureau. December 21, 2010. Archived from the original on December 24, 2010. Retrieved January 9, 2011.
  5. ^ Selby, W. Gardner. "Americans must answer U.S. Census Bureau survey by law, though agency has not prosecuted since 1970"(January 9, 2014). politifact.com. Archived from the original on January 7, 2017. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  6. ^ D'oro, Rachel (January 25, 2010). "Remote Alaska village is first eyed in census". The Denver Post. Noorvik, Alaska. Associated Press. Archived from the original on January 7, 2017. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
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  9. ^ "Take 10 Map 2010 Census Participation Census Bureau". Archived from the original on August 20, 2010. Retrieved August 10, 2010.
  10. ^ PIO, US Census Bureau, Census History Staff. "The "72-Year Rule" – History – U.S. Census Bureau". www.census.gov. Archived from the original on April 16, 2019. Retrieved October 26, 2015.
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  43. ^ On the 2010 Census Results Archived May 28, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
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