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What is the 2020 Census?

The 2020 Census counts every person living in the 50 states, District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories.

The count is mandated by the Constitution and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency. The 2020 Census counts the population in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each home will receive an invitation to respond to a short questionnaire—online, by phone, or by mail.

Why The Count is Conducted

The census provides critical data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and many others use to provide daily services, products, and support for you and your community. Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other resources based on census data.

The results of the census also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, and they are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.

It’s also in the Constitution: Article 1, Section 2, mandates that the country conduct a count of its population once every 10 years. The 2020 Census will mark the 24th time that the country has counted its population since 1790.

Counting Everyone

Participating in the census is required by law, even if you recently completed another survey from the Census Bureau. A complete and accurate count is critical for you and your community because the results of the 2020 Census will affect community funding, congressional representation, and more.

Important Dates

In mid-March, homes across the country will begin receiving invitations to complete the 2020 Census. Once the invitation arrives, you should respond for your home in one of three ways: online, by phone, or by mail.

Overall Timeline

Counting every person living in the United States is a massive undertaking, and efforts begin years in advance. Here’s a look at some of the key dates along the way:

2020

  • January 21: The U.S. Census Bureau starts counting the population in remote Alaska. The count officially begins in the rural Alaskan village of Toksook Bay.
  • 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.

2021

  • March 31: By this date, the Census Bureau will send redistricting counts to states. This information is used to redraw legislative districts based on population changes.

Census Day 2020

April 1 is Census Day, a key reference date for the 2020 Census. When completing the census, you will include everyone living in your home on April 1, 2020. Census Day will be celebrated with events across the country.

 

Questions Asked on the Census

Explore the questions you’ll be asked on your 2020 Census form. You’ll find tips for responding and information on how the Census Bureau will use your answers. 

1. How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment, or mobile home on April 1, 2020?

Here, you’ll count everyone living and sleeping in your home most of the time, including young children, roommates, and friends and family members who are living with you, even temporarily.

Why this question is asked: This helps count the entire U.S. population and ensures that people are counted where they live most of the time as of Census Day (April 1, 2020).

2. Were there any additional people staying here on April 1, 2020, that you did not include in Question 1?

Mark all that apply: Children, related or unrelated, such as newborn babies, grandchildren, or foster children; relatives, such as adult children, cousins, or in-laws; nonrelatives, such as roommates or live-in babysitters, and people staying here temporarily.

Why this question is asked: The goal of the 2020 Census is to count everyone just once and in the right place. We want to ensure that everyone in your home who should be counted is counted—including newborns, roommates, and those who may be staying with you temporarily.

3. Is this house, apartment, or mobile home (mark ONE box) …

…Owned by you or someone in this household with a mortgage or loan? Include home equity loans. Is it owned by you or someone in this household free and clear (without a mortgage or loan)? Rented? Occupied without payment of rent? 

Why this question is asked: This helps produce statistics about homeownership and renting. The rates of homeownership serve as one indicator of the nation’s economy. They also help with administering housing programs, planning, and decision-making.

4. What is your telephone number?

Why this question is asked: The Census Bureau asks for your phone number in case there are any questions about your census form. You will only be contacted for official census business, if needed.

5. What is Person 1’s name?

If there is someone living here who pays the rent or owns the residence, start by listing him or her as Person 1. If the owner or the person who pays the rent does not live here, start by listing any adult living there as Person 1. There will be opportunities to list the names of additional members of your household.

Why this question is asked: The Census Bureau asks a series of questions about each member of your household. This allows us to establish one central figure as a starting point.

6. What is Person 1’s sex?

Mark ONE box: male or female.

Why this question is asked: This allows us to create statistics about males and females, which can be used in planning and funding government programs. This data can also be used to enforce laws, regulations, and policies against discrimination.

7. What is Person 1’s age and what is Person 1’s date of birth?

Note Person 1’s age as of April 1, 2020. For babies less than 1 year old, do not write the age in months. Write 0 as the age.

Why this question is asked: The U.S. Census Bureau creates statistics to better understand the size and characteristics of different age groups. Agencies use this data to plan and fund government programs that support specific age groups, including children and older adults. (Read more about Counting Young Children.)

8. Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin?

NOTE: Please answer both Question 8 about Hispanic origin and Question 9 about race.  For this census, Hispanic origins are not races. Hispanic origin can be viewed as the heritage, nationality, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person’s parents or ancestors before arriving in the United States. People who identify as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be any race.

Why this question is asked: These responses help create statistics about this ethnic group. This helps federal agencies monitor compliance with anti-discrimination provisions, such as those in the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act.

9. What is Person 1’s race? 

Mark one or more boxes AND print origins: White; Black or African American; American Indian or Alaska Native; Chinese; Filipino; Asian Indian; Vietnamese; Korean; Japanese; other Asian; Native Hawaiian; Samoan; Chamorro; other Pacific Islander; some other race.

Why this question is asked: This allows us to create statistics about race and to analyze other statistics within racial groups. This data helps federal agencies monitor compliance with anti-discrimination provisions, such as those in the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act.

10. Print name of Person 2.

Here, you will list the next person in your household.

Why this question is asked: The 2020 Census asks information about each member of your household. This question identifies the next person to refer to in the ensuing questions. This process repeats for each person in your home.

11. Does this person usually live or stay somewhere else? 

Mark all that apply: no; yes, for college; yes, for a military assignment; yes, for a job or business; yes, in a nursing home; yes, with a parent or other relative; yes, at a seasonal or second residence; yes, in a jail or prison; yes, for another reason.

Why this question is asked: This question helps ensure that the Census Bureau is counting everyone once, only once, and in the right place. If you have questions about whether or not to include someone, visit Who To Count.

12. How is this person related to Person 1?

Mark ONE box; opposite-sex husband/wife/spouse; opposite-sex unmarried partner; same-sex husband/wife/spouse; same-sex unmarried partner; biological son or daughter; adopted son or daughter; stepson or stepdaughter; brother or sister; father or mother; grandchild; parent-in-law; son-in-law or daughter-in-law; other relative; roommate or housemate; foster child; other nonrelative.

Why this question is asked: This allows the Census Bureau to develop data about families, households, and other groups. Relationship data is used in planning and funding government programs that support families, including people raising children alone.

There is no citizenship question on the 2020 Census

2020 Census Jobs

The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting to fill hundreds of thousands of temporary positions across the country to assist with the 2020 Census count.

As a valued member of the Census Team, you will be responsible for contributing to the fabric of our nation – where everyone counts.

For more information about 2020 jobs, please go to 2020census.gov/jobs. To apply for jobs within the United States Census Bureau, please choose from the following:

First-time Applicants Register Here

Returning Applicants Login Here

 

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