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The End of 2020 Census Data Collection, Next Steps, and a Heartfelt Thanks

October 19, 2020
Written by: Dr. Steven Dillingham, Director

We completed data collection for the 2020 Census on October 15, 2020. Every decennial census makes history, but this was like no other in living memory. Over the coming days, weeks and months, we will provide periodic updates on our post-processing efforts. We are working hard to deliver complete and accurate state population counts as close to the Dec. 31, 2020, statutory deadline as possible.

Our first look at the data collection operation indicates an extremely successful execution. We published our total response rates on a daily basis, and they show that we accounted for 99.9% of all addresses in the nation.

All states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, achieved total response rates over 99.0%. All but one state was at or above 99.9%. The state of Louisiana and our field staff who worked hard to complete Nonresponse Followup operations deserve our congratulations and thanks for getting the total response rate over 99.0% complete even with the devastating effects of hurricanes Laura and Delta.

While other quality measures for the 2020 Census will be produced over time, it helps to look at self-response rates as an initial metric. Our final self-response rate for the 2020 Census was 67.0%, compared with the final self-response rate for 2010 of 66.5%. Generally, better data comes from self-response, but after a decade of global decline in census and survey participation along with the challenges presented by COVID-19, we had not expected to beat the 2010 self-response rate. This would not have been possible without our partners and new technologies. The 2020 Census benefited from the strong support of nearly 400,000 dedicated community and national partners who contributed to our efforts to achieve a complete and accurate count of the nation’s population. The internet proved to be the easiest and preferred option for self-reporting.

Each and every partner played an important role, whether they hung posters in store windows, formed a Complete Count Committee, hosted a Census Solutions Workshop in their community, encouraged their employees to respond, or highlighted why the census is important for their social media followers. These efforts were vital in our shared work to encourage all communities to participate in this once-a-decade constitutional responsibility.

Our partners served as trusted voices and census ambassadors within their communities, and their outreach raised awareness of the 2020 Census and encouraged response — particularly among those who have been historically hard to count. Partners included corporations, small businesses, nonprofits, philanthropic organizations, members of Congress, state and local officials, American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) stakeholders, the faith-based community, and many others.

When COVID-19 turned everyone’s plans upside down, our partners rose to the occasion with creativity and perseverance. In-person events became virtual events. Outreach turned digital with video messages, Facebook Live events, and other online engagements. Some communities sponsored socially distanced car parades through neighborhoods. There were census songs to engage kids and census characters to greet bus riders.

From America’s largest employers to your local coffee shop, to all levels of government, and civic organizations in every community, partners of all kinds stepped up. On behalf of the thousands of employees of the U.S. Census Bureau, thank you, and congratulations on the tremendous impact you made in shaping your community’s future by promoting the 2020 Census.

With data collection for the 2020 Census concluded, we at the Census Bureau want to keep working with you. We will continue to provide information on the 2020 Census going forward, including to our national partnership and community partnership teams. We encourage you to sign up today to receive updates.

We hope our work together extends beyond the once-a-decade-count. The Census Bureau conducts more than 130 surveys and programs each year, and helps local and national organizations use the data throughout the decade. 

We encourage you to continue making Census Bureau data work for you and your community. It can help you make more informed decisions that improve business planning, government and nonprofit services, and the quality of our lives.

The Census Bureau values your continued partnership, and we look forward to collaborating and working with you again soon!

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