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.
TIMELINE – THIS TIMELINE HAS SHIFTED DUE TO COVID-19. WE WILL POST UPDATES AS THEY HAPPEN.
The Census Bureau on April 13 asked Congress for four months of statutory relief so they can safely extend self-response deadlines and provide census results for apportionment and redistricting. With their request for extensions, 2020 Census field operations would start after June 1 and the self-response deadline would extend to October 31; apportionment counts would be delivered by April 30, 2021 and redistricting data would be delivered to the states no later than July 31, 2021.
Please remember, if you are home because of a COVID-19 closure of your college or university, you should be counted where you would normally live and sleep.
You can respond online at my2020census.gov.
- January 21: The Census Bureau started counting the population in remote Alaska. The count officially began in the rural Alaskan village of Toksook Bay.
- March 12 – March 20: Households received official Census Bureau mail with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone, or by mail.
- April 1: This is Census Day, a key reference date for the 2020 Census—not a deadline. We use this day to determine who is counted and where in the 2020 Census. When you respond, you’ll tell the Census Bureau where you live as of April 1, 2020, and include everyone who usually lives and sleeps in your home. You can respond before or after that date. We encourage you to respond as soon as you can.
- April 16 – June 19: Census takers will work with administrators at colleges, senior centers, prisons, and other facilities that house large groups of people to make sure everyone is counted.
- May 27 – August 14: Census takers will interview homes that haven’t responded to the 2020 Census to help make sure everyone is counted.
- December: The Census Bureau will deliver apportionment counts to the President and Congress as required by law.
UPDATE (May 25, 2020): 2020 Census Field Operations
The U.S. Census Bureau is beginning a phased restart of some 2020 Census field operations in Massachusetts starting this week (the week of May 25th). This means:
- Official U.S. Census Bureau employees will deliver 2020 Census packets to households that have not yet received it in the mail, such as households in select rural areas and households that use P.O. boxes.
- Packets will include a paper survey and a letter with a Census I.D. number. Households can choose to mail-in their survey or respond online or by phone.
- Census employees will just drop off packets at this time, and will NOT conduct in-person interviews.
- If a household has responded to the 2020 Census, they do not need to do anything.
- To view the Census Bureau’s fact sheet about the delivery of packets go to: https://www.census.gov/library/fact-sheets/2020/dec/update-leave.html.
- March 31: By this date, the Census Bureau will send redistricting counts to the states. This information is used to redraw legislative districts based on population changes.
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.