Snohomish County 2020 Census Logo

Why does the Census matter?

The decennial census plays a pivotal role in collecting and reporting data that is essential for the government, business, and nonprofits to function in supporting services for communities across Washington state. This data is used to make decisions that impact every community across the country for the next 10 years on issues including redistricting, the enforcement of civil rights laws, education, and infrastructure funding, among others. 
This effort to count everyone living in the United States happens only once every 10 years. It is an immense task and there is only one chance to get it right.
What is at stake in a under counted Census?


Hundreds of federal financial assistance programs rely on data derived from the Census to guide the geographic distribution of funds to states, counties, cities, and households. In 2015, Washington received about $14 billion, about $2,000 per person, for the 16 largest Census-guided programs, which include: 

  • Medicaid 
  • Highway Planning and Construction 
  • Special Education Grants 
  • School Lunch Programs 
  • Head Start/Early Head Start 
  • Health Center Programs 
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance 
  • Foster Care, and Children’s Health Insurance Program 

A main function of Census data is to reapportion states for both Congressional and Legislative seats so that new boundary lines for voting districts can be drawn. For example, based on 2010 Census data, Washington State’s population grew 14.1% from 200. With that growth, Washington earned a 10th seat in Congress. Voting districts are determined by the total number of people living in an area, not just the number of voters or citizens. 
The boundary drawing process, called redistricting, determines the political representation of all communities. Making sure that all people in all communities are counted in the 2020 Census, could dramatically change the ways in which the districts are drawn. The redistricting process can keep communities together or split them apart. It can also change who wins an election – and ultimately which party controls Congress or the Legislature.
Who is traditionally under counted?

The Census has traditionally under counted certain communities and areas, called by the Census Bureau as 'Hard to Count Communities' (HTC). These areas are defined as communities and locations where completed surveys were returned via mail at much lower rates compared to the numbers of occupied housing units that received questionnaires. 
For the Census Bureau, this 'HTC' term includes racial minorities, young children, lower income persons, people who do not speak English fluently, immigrants, Native Americans, LGBTQ individuals, people experiencing homelessness, and those with severe distrust of the government. These are the very communities that are in need of equal representation. 
If they are not counted accurately in the Census, they are at risk of being further disenfranchised from our government and services.
Known Hard to count Groups
  • Children under 5 years old
  • Racial and ethnic minorities
  • Non-English speakers
  • Immigrants
  • Renters and residents who move often
  • Persons experiencing homelessness

  • Alternative and overcrowded housing units
  • Gated Communities
  • Public inaccessible multifamily units
  • Persons displaced by natural disasters
  • Young mobile adults
  • Single-parent headed households
What did the 2010 Census show for Snohomish County?
The 2010 Census showed the following counts:
    79.9% returned the Census surveys in Snohomish County resulting in:

People of Color
    ~9% Hispanic
    ~2.5% African American
    ~8.8% Asian
    ~1.3% American Indian or Alaska Native
    ~0.4% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander

The above information was derived from:

Interactive Map of Snohomish County Hard to count areas

Census 2020-Hard-to-Count-Snohomish County

What's in it for you?


  • The Census will determine how much funding your community receives, and how your community plans for the future. When you fill out the Census, you help:
  • Determine how many seats your state gets in Congress.
  • Guide how more than $675 billion in federal funding is distributed to states and communities each year.
  • Create jobs, provide housing, prepare for emergencies, and build schools, roads and hospitals.