It’s time for the 2020 Census! If you have questions, check out the 2020 Census website for more information.
WHY DO WE HAVE A CENSUS?
The Constitution mandates a population count once every ten years. The Census started in 1790 and this year’s Census will shape how political power and federal tax dollars are shared in the U.S over the next 10 years. The number of congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets are determined by census numbers. They also guide how an estimated $880 billion a year in federal funding is distributed for schools, roads and other public services in local communities. The demographic data are used by businesses to determine, for example, where to build new supermarkets and by emergency responders to locate injured people after natural disasters.
WHO FILLS OUT THE CENSUS?
The Census Bureau includes every person living in the U.S. — regardless of citizenship or immigration status. International visitors on vacation or work trips to the U.S. during the census are not included. Residents are counted at the address where they usually live and sleep.
HOW DO I RESPOND TO THE 2020 CENSUS?
You can respond to the Census in one of three ways:
- On the phone: For the first time, 1-800 numbers will be available to give the response over the phone.
- In writing: A paper form will be mailed to each household.
- Online: For the first time in history, there will be the option to fill out the Census online. You can respond online at my2020census.gov.
THIS TIMELINE HAS SHIFTED DUE TO COVID-19. WE WILL POST UPDATES AS THEY HAPPEN
UPDATE AUGUST 14:
Census Bureau Adapts Operations to Ensure Everyone Is Counted
AUGUST 14, 2020 — As the U.S. Census Bureau continues to monitor the impacts COVID-19 has on 2020 Census operations, changes to operations are being deployed to ensure the safety of staff and the public while maximizing the number of households that respond on their own to the 2020 Census.
“We are taking steps and adapting our operations to make sure everyone is counted, while keeping everyone safe,” said Census Bureau Director Dr. Steven Dillingham. “Our commitment to a complete and accurate 2020 Census is absolute. In this challenging environment, we are deploying these tactics to make sure we reach every household in every community. If you haven’t responded, the time to respond is now! Responding to the 2020 Census online, on paper, by phone, or in person with a census taker, helps secure vital resources for your community.”
As of today, over 63.5% of households have responded to the 2020 Census. People can still respond online, over the phone or by mail — all without having to meet a census taker.
The Census Bureau will follow up with some nonresponding households by phone.
In order to supplement our capabilities to send census takers to households in person, the Census Bureau is training census takers to follow up with households by phone. Using information provided to the Census Bureau and third-party purchased data, the Census Bureau has a strong contact list for both landlines and cellphones assigned to houses on the Census Bureau’s address list. These phone calls will enable the Census Bureau to have maximum flexibility for conducting field operations, and is one more method that census takers can use to reach nonresponding households.. If a voicemail is available, the census taker will leave a message asking the household to call one of the Census Bureau’s call centers.
Census takers have begun following up with households nationwide. Census takers will continue to follow up with nonresponding households in person, and will follow CDC and local public health guidelines when they visit.
If no one is home when the census taker visits, the census taker will leave a “Notice of Visit” with information about how to respond online, by phone or by mail, to encourage response. During Census Bureau tests, the “Notice of Visit” proved successful in encouraging people to respond on their own to the census.
The Census Bureau will mail an additional paper questionnaire to nonresponding households.
To encourage more households to respond on their own to the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau is contacting nonresponding households by mailing an additional paper questionnaire to some households that have yet to respond.
The Census Bureau is sending a seventh mailing, including a paper questionnaire, in late August to early September to the lowest-responding census tracts.
The Census Bureau is emailing households in low-responding areas.
The Census Bureau recently announced that households in low-responding areas would be receiving emails to encourage response to the 2020 Census.
The emails will go to all households that the Census Bureau has contact information for in census block groups with a response rate lower than 50%. This will include households who may have already responded. In total, the Census Bureau expects to email more than 20 million households in these low-responding areas. The email messages will come from email@example.com and will give recipients the option to opt out of receiving future messages.
The Census Bureau is using email addresses that households have provided in response to another Census Bureau program, or received from states (such as from their WIC, SNAP or TANF programs) or from a commercial list.
In addition to contacting households through these new methods, the Census Bureau is increasing other outreach efforts during one last push to encourage everyone to respond to the census online, by phone or by mail. The Census Bureau recently announced that it has launched Mobile Questionnaire Assistance, a program that offers assistance with responding at locations, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, in low-responding areas.
Additionally, the Census Bureau has expanded its paid advertising, launching a series of new advertisements aimed at increasing online response. Now, 45 non-English languages are receiving some level of paid media support.
WHAT QUESTIONS WILL BE ON THE CENSUS?
The Census questions are very generic demographic questions about you and the other people who live with you. These questions include name, age, origin of birth, race, gender, the relationship of the people living in the same place (spouse, son/daughter, renter, etc.), and whether the home is owned or rented. There will be other operational questions as well, such as whether someone usually lives or stays somewhere else, how many people were living at the residence on April 1, 2020, telephone number, and if there was anyone else living in the residence on April 1 that do not currently live there (if the census is taken after April 1, 2020).
For more information about the planned questions and why the questions are being asked, check out the Questions Planned for the 2020 Census and American Community Survey.
WHAT IF I DON’T WANT TO ANSWER ALL OF THE QUESTIONS?
You can skip questions, submit an incomplete census form, and still be included in the head count. But you can be fined for refusing to answer a census question or intentionally giving a false answer, although the penalty has been enforced rarely in the past. Returning a partially filled-out questionnaire may result in a follow-up phone call or visit from a census worker.
WHY SHOULD I RESPOND TO THE CENSUS?
The Census collects data that will help states, counties, and communities determine:
- Representation: The number of seats a state has in the U.S. House of Representatives, and determines the districts for state government.
- Funding: How to distribute approximately $675 billion in federal funding to local communities yearly.
- Planning: The creation and upkeep of local services such as roads, schools, hospitals, senior centers, emergency services, and libraries.
- Businesses: The creation of factories, business headquarters, and stores, as well as the ability to recruit employees and conduct market research.
If there is not a full count of all residents in 2020, it could result in the loss of millions of dollars for important federal programs in Massachusetts.
I’M WORRIED THAT MY ANSWERS WILL BE SHARED WITH OTHER PEOPLE OR AGENCIES…MAYBE EVEN HACKED!
It is against the law to share specific answers with anyone and the Census Bureau is using a new privacy protection system, in addition to the safeguards it already used, to further protect the privacy of respondents.
I THINK I HAVE ALREADY RESPONDED TO THE CENSUS…IS THAT POSSIBLE?
As of July 2019, you may have received the 2019 Census Test – a trial run for the 2020 Census (which won’t start until early January 2020). The 2019 Census Test will randomly assign households to two panels and ask them to respond to the 2020 Census questions.
You could also have been randomly selected for a Census survey. It is important to verify that the survey is legitimate, because there have been reports of scams.
HOW DO I VERIFY THAT I’M RESPONDING TO A LEGITIMATE CENSUS REQUEST?
If you receive mail about the Census:
- Check that the return address is Jeffersonville, Indiana
- If you continue to question the authenticity of the letter or form call the Regional Office for your state to verify the household survey. For business surveys please visit the Census Bureau Business Help Site or contact the National Processing Center.
If someone calls your household to complete a survey:
- Call the National Processing Center to verify the caller is a Census Bureau employee
- Please review the Census Bureau’s alphabetical list of All Surveys
If someone visits your residence to complete a survey:
- Check first for a valid U.S. Census Bureau ID badge
- If you are still unsure then call the Regional Office for your state to verify you are in a legitimate survey and the visitor is a Census Bureau employee.
If you get an email and think it is bogus:
- Do not reply, do not click on any links, and do not open any attachments.
- Forward the email or website URL to the Census Bureau at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Delete the message. The Census Bureau will investigate and notify you of the findings.
Please note that the Census Bureau will never ask for your full social security number, bank account number, or passwords.
WHO TO CONTACT
New York Regional Office
Phone: 1- 800-991-2520 or 1-212-882-7100.
Mon-Fri, 8a.m. – 5p.m., Eastern Standard Time.