Talk about wanting a high open rate!
That’s the objective of the U.S. Census, a massive undertaking that’s already begun in remote Alaskan territory. The U.S. Census is decennial—conducted once every 10 years—to measure a changing America.
“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.
The USA attempts to count every single person living here in a snapshot taken on April 1 in years that end in a zero. Since it affects representation, our nation’s founders wrote the ten-year poll into the U.S. Constitution.
Beyond determining congressional representation, the data impacts federal funding of more than $675 billion for education, highway construction, emergency response, fire departments, hospitals, and more services. It also provides facts and figures on demographics that are extremely important to communities and businesses.
How does everyone get counted?
In mid-March, homes across the country will begin receiving invitations to complete the 2020 Census. Once the invitation arrives, respond for the household in one of three ways: online, by phone, or by mail.
Census takers will also visit college students who live on campus, people living in senior centers, military barracks, RV parks, campgrounds, motels, and so on.
What about the homeless?
The Census Bureau will count people who are experiencing homelessness during the three-day period March 30 to April 1. They count people in shelters, at soup kitchens and mobile food vans, on the streets, and at non-sheltered, outdoor locations such as tent encampments.
Are people required to complete the census?
Yes. According to United States Code, Title 13, Chapter 7, SubChapter II, if anyone over 18 refuses to answer all or part of the census, that individual can be fined up to $100. False answers are subject to a fine of up to $500.
What about privacy?
The federal 72-Rule governs privacy. That is, individual-level records are protected for 72 years after the census is taken. The law, passed in 1978, grew from an agreement between the Census Bureau and National Archives.
Do census workers come to the door?
Maybe. Beginning in May 2020, census takers begin visiting homes that haven’t responded to the mailed 2020 Census to help ensure everyone is counted. At the same time, other Census Bureau representatives will be visiting homes for ongoing surveys.
Who gets hired as census takers?
It’s a good gig. Some 500,000 workers from deeply rural Alaska to the heart of NYC go out to tabulate the population. The job pays up to $30 an hour in big cities.
When are the results available?
In December 2020, the Census Bureau will deliver apportionment counts to the president and Congress as required by law.
Then what happens?
By March 31, 2021, the Census Bureau will send redistricting counts to states. This information is used to redraw legislative districts based on population changes.
Where is more information available?
Visit 2020census.gov for more information.
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