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The resignation of the U.S. Census Bureau director leaves the agency with no leader just month before it begins a big hiring and technology push for the 2020 census. Data from the census is useful far beyond counting the population. Economists and businesses use census numbers to decide where and when to expand, or pull back, and to measure other trends across the country. The 2020 census will be the first time Americans can answer questions online or by phone, a system that requires investment in new technology. President Trump has proposed a 10 percent cut to the department overall just as its director testified about a 50 percent increase in the cost of the new data-gathering system.

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