The 2020 census will mark the 23rd time in U.S. history that this once-a-decade population count has been conducted. From its early beginnings in 1790 under then Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and President George Washington, the census has certainly evolved. At its core, however, its goal has remained the same: to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place. In a fast-paced, increasingly mobile environment, conducting a complete and accurate count does not come without its share of difficulties, but the U.S. Census Bureau is committed to making self-response easier than ever. For the first time, people will be able to self-respond not only by mail but also by telephone and online. Respondents will also notice the census has been reduced to 10 questions which should take about 10 minutes to complete. What many may not realize is the impact those 10 minutes can have on their community.
A complete count of every person living in the United States has incredible benefits.
• Accurately determines how many representatives each state has in Congress and informs the redrawing of congressional district boundaries.
• Is used as the basis for distributing more than $675 billion in federal funds annually to states, counties, and communities to support resources such as schools, hospitals, fire departments, and highway planning and construction. Accurate census data is vital to many social service programs relied upon by those in our community.
• Informs business decisions, policy, community initiatives, and consumer advocacy. When looking to build, businesses will pull census data to examine demographics and marketplace potential for future locations.
Not only are you are required by law to participate in the census, but the Census Bureau is also bound by law to keep your answers completely confidential. Your responses are used only to produce statistics and cannot be given to any government agency, court, local authority, or landlord. Every Census Bureau employee takes a lifetime oath to protect your information and keep it confidential, and any violation of that oath comes with a penalty of up to $250,000 and/or up to five years in prison. Additionally, the Census Bureau has strong precautions in place to ensure online responses are kept secure. Encryptions are used to protect personal privacy, and the Bureau’s cybersecurity program meets the highest and most recent standards for protecting personal information.
Respondents should fill out the census according to where they spend most of their time, not necessarily according to where they have a physical address. If you are filling out the census for your household, you should count anyone who is living there as of April 1, 2020. It is also important to remember to count any children who are living with you. This includes grandchildren, children who split their time between households (if they are living with you on April 1, 2020), and newborn babies (even those who are still in the hospital) on April 1, 2020. For answers to more specific living situations, you can visit https://2020census.gov/en/who-to-count.html.
Completing the 2020 census is the law, but it’s also the chance for everyone to be counted to ensure their communities get the representation and federal funding they deserve. It’s simple and safe, and there are few things we can do in 10 minutes that will have such a monumental impact on the next 10 years. The 2020 census is one of them. For more information, visit www.2020census.gov.