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For the First Time, People Can Respond Online From Any Device, By Mail or by Phone

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The U.S. Census Bureau is on track, on budget and on time in its planning for the 2020 Census and has formed partnerships with some of the nation’s most important corporations, nonprofits and multicultural groups to ensure that everyone is counted one year from today.

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“The goal of the 2020 Census is to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place,” said Dr. Steven Dillingham, director of the Census Bureau. “A year before the census is conducted, we are on track. We are confident that our early planning is going to pay off.”

Census Day, the reference date for responses to the 2020 Census, is April 1, 2020. For the first time, people will be able to respond anytime, anywhere — online from any device or by mail or phone.

“A year before the census is conducted, we are on track. We are confident that our early planning is going to pay off.”

— Steve Dillingham, director of the Census Bureau

Today, during a press briefing at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Dillingham also discussed the Census Bureau’s new public relations campaign and tag line: “Shape your future. START HERE.” A national advertising campaign will start appearing in media across the country in January 2020.

“We are ahead of where we were at this point for the 2010 Census in terms of our planning, and we will be ready to take a complete and accurate census next year,” said Albert E. Fontenot Jr., associate director for Decennial Census Programs.

The 2020 Census is important because responses are used to help determine how more than $675 billion in federal funds annually are spent across the country. Those funds are used for services like emergency response and fire departments, and clinics and hospitals.

Results from the 2020 Census also determine congressional representation for each state, and are used by states to draw state legislative and school district lines.

The census of population and housing is taken every 10 years and is required by the U.S. Constitution. New technology, as well as census takers using smartphones and tablets, will make for the most modern and efficient census to date.

 “The outcome from the 2020 Census is huge,” said Tim Olson, associate director for Field Operations. “It determines how we are represented in Congress and how federal resources are allocated to the state and local levels.”

Flanked by representatives of multicultural groups and key partners — such as the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the American Library Association and the Chickasaw Nation of American Indians — Census Bureau executives highlighted ways they are working to count everyone who lives in the United States.

Counting All Your Children

Counting all children who live and sleep in your home most of the time — including newborn babies — is important to gaining funds for future schools and programs they will need, said Lisa Hamilton, president and chief executive officer of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which advocates for child health and education.

“An accurate 2020 Census is critical to understanding how kids, families and communities are doing and informing our decisions as a nation,” said Lisa Hamilton, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a Baltimore-based national philanthropy that seeks to build a brighter future for America’s children. “We all have a part to play in increasing awareness about the importance and safety of participating and making sure all kids are counted, no matter where they live or where they are from.” 

Responding at Your Library

Being able to respond online will make the 2020 Census easy for most people. But about 20 percent of people who live in the United States don’t have access to the internet at home, particularly those who live in rural and remote areas.

While people can always answer by mail or phone, the American Library Association reminds people that most libraries have computers they can use to fill out the 2020 Census online.

“With 99 percent of hard-to-count areas located within five miles of a public library, we have a tremendous opportunity to promote equity,” said Loida Garcia-Febo, president of the American Library Association. “We want our communities to know that they can count on libraries to help reach a complete count in 2020.”

Reaching out to Multicultural Groups

Multicultural groups are reaching out to their communities across the country to emphasize the importance of responding to the 2020 Census. Partnerships with nonprofits, companies and local government groups are being formed, and complete count committees are being established in towns and cities.

The first count of people will begin in Toksook Bay, Alaska, on Jan. 21, 2020. Remote Alaska’s vast, sparsely settled areas are traditionally counted in January of the decennial census year. That’s because many residents leave following the spring thaw and ice break up to fish and hunt or for other warm-weather jobs, making it difficult to get an accurate count in the days leading up to the April 1 Census Day.

“An accurate counting of Native Americans is particularly important because of the government-to-government relationship tribes have with the federal government, said Bill Anoatubby, Governor of the Chickasaw Nation.

“The federal government has treaty responsibilities to provide education, health care, housing and other services to Native Americans,” he said. “Therefore, an accurate count of people from each Native American nation or tribe is essential in outlining the details of those responsibilities.”

Census Bureau leadership encouraged people across the country to help the Census Bureau get a full count next spring by applying for a job with the Census Bureau; joining a complete count committee; or reaching out to their friends, families, neighbors, coworkers and community groups to spread the word that the 2020 Census is important, and responding is safe and secure.

Individual responses to the 2020 Census are confidential and never shared with other government agencies. The Census Bureau goes to extraordinary lengths to protect the information from cyberattacks.

Information about the 2020 Census will be mailed to most addresses beginning in mid-March 2020. People can respond online, by mail or by phone. If no response is received, a census taker will come to your home to follow up in person.

The Census Bureau has:

  • Hired nearly 900 early operations recruiting assistants.
  • Designated 38 area census offices as ready for business.
  • Helped establish more than 1,500 local complete count committees focused on getting everyone to respond.
  • Reviewed addresses in more than 11 million (all 11,155,486) census blocks across the country. (An average census block has 4,000 people in it.)
  • Improved or corrected over 75 million addresses.
  • Added 5.3 million new residential addresses since the previous census in 2010.

In addition, the Census Bureau has conducted extensive research on the attitudes and understanding about the 2020 Census taking a statistical sample of U.S. residents. About 17,500 people responded to the survey, and 42 focus groups were conducted; 16 focus groups were held in non-English languages. Two out of three people said they were “likely” to fill out the 2020 Census questionnaire on their own.

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Page Last Revised - February 25, 2022
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