March 23, 2020
What is the Census?
The United States Constitution requires a count every 10 years of every person who is residing in the U.S., regardless of immigration status or citizenship. The Census Bureau's goal for the 2020 Census is to "count everyone once, only once, and in the right place."
For the first time, the Census Bureau will promote online response as the preferred method. Once you have received your invitation, you can visit My2020Census.gov to complete the questionnaire.
** If responding online is difficult for you, you can respond via phone at: 844-330-2020 (English), or 844-468-2020 (Spanish). Phone numbers for other languages can be found here.**
- No Social Security Number is required to complete the census. No Credit Card information is ever asked.
- The Census is expected to take approximately 10 minutes to complete.
- The Census will ask about relationships to others being counted within the household. For the first time, the census will have same-sex relationship options.
- Information on individuals is strictly not shared with other government departments.
- Everyone staying at the address should be counted, including very young children. Official guidelines can be found here.
- There is no citizenship question.
- If someone is homeless, they can still complete the Census. They may select 'other address' which only requires city/county, and not an official address.
- The paper questionnaire will be bilingual (English and Spanish). Online there will be more language options.
Why is the Census important?
Census data is used for:
- Representation: The decennial count of all U.S. residents is required by the U.S. Constitution to determine representation in Congress and the Electoral College. This data is also the basis for drawing districts for federal, state, and local offices.
- Funding: The Census is key to the allocation of billions of dollars in federal funding to states and localities for programs such as Community Development Block Grant to provide for decent affordable housing solutions, economic opportunities, recreational and neighborhood infrastructure, and services for people with low and moderate incomes, including seniors and other special populations.
- Information: Data resulting from the Census is widely used by researchers, governments, businesses, and other organizations (to use, for example, in planning for urban and other housing and for social services including health care, child care, and support for persons fleeing domestic violence).
Important Dates in 2020
March 12 - 20: Households will begin receiving official Census Bureau mail with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone, or by mail.
March 30 - April 1: The Census Bureau will count people who are experiencing homelessness over these three days. As part of this process, the Census Bureau counts people in shelters, at soup kitchens and mobile food vans, on the streets, and at non-sheltered, outdoor locations such as tent encampments.
April 1: Census Day is observed nationwide. By this date, every home will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. Once the invitation arrives, you should respond for your home in one of three ways: online, by phone, or by mail. When you respond to the census, you'll tell the Census Bureau where you live as of April 1, 2020.
April: Census takers will begin visiting college students who live on campus, people living in senior centers, and others who live among large groups of people. Census takers also begin conducting quality check interviews to help ensure an accurate count.
May - July: Census takers will begin visiting 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.
Links to Other Resources
ALA Libraries Guide to the 2020 Census
2020 Census Sample Questionnaire