2020 Census: What You Need to Know

Important Dates

  • Mid-March: Homes across the U.S. will begin receiving invitations to complete the 2020 Census. You can respond online, by phone or by mail. The City will provide questionnaire assistance at City Hall beginning in mid-March.
  • April 1: By this date, every home will receive an invitation to participate. In your response, you'll tell the Census Bureau where you live as of April 1, 2020.
  • April: Census takers will begin visiting communities with large groups of people and conduct quality check interviews to help ensure an accurate count.
  • May to July: Census takers will begin visiting homes that haven't responded to the 2020 Census invitation.
  • December: The Census Bureau will deliver apportionment counts to the President and Congress as required by law.

Why the Census Is Essential

The 2020 Census is much more than a head count. It provides a picture of our nation that helps determine where to build new schools, hospitals and businesses; how federal funding is distributed; and how congressional seats are apportioned. It also helps us see how our communities have changed over time. That’s why an accurate count is so important. Here’s a quick refresher of what the census is and why it’s essential that everyone is counted. 

It’s in the Constitution.
The U.S. Constitution mandates that everyone in the country be counted every 10 years. The first census was in 1790.

Everyone counts.
The 2020 census counts every person living in the U.S. once, and only once, and in the right place.

It’s about fair representation.
Every 10 years, the results of the census are used to reapportion the House of Representatives, determining how many seats each state gets. 

It’s about redistricting.
After each decade’s census, state officials redraw the boundaries of the congressional and state legislative districts in their states to account for population shifts. 

It’s about $675 billion.
The distribution of more than $675 billion in federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities are based on census data. That money is spent on schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other vital programs. 

Taking part is your civic duty. 
Completing the census is mandatory; it’s a way to participate in our democracy and say, “I count!”

It focuses on hard-to-count populations.
This includes seniors and older adults, people with disabilities, renters, those with limited or no internet access, foreign-born/immigrant populations, those with limited English proficiency and LGBTQ individuals.

Census data are being used all around you.
Residents use the census to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality of life and consumer advocacy.

Your privacy is protected. 
It’s against the law for the Census Bureau to publicly release your responses in any way that could identify you or your household. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share your answers with any other government agency.

2020 will be easier than ever.
In 2020, you will be able to respond to the census online. Households also can respond by mail or by phone, or through a traditional in-person interview. The Census Bureau expects many households to complete the questionnaire online, using instructions received in the mail. These instructions will also include information about how to respond by phone. Some households will receive a printed questionnaire, which they can mail, postage-free, back to the Census Bureau. A small percentage of households, primarily located in remote areas of the country, will be visited by a census taker who will help collect the necessary information to complete the form.

You can help. 
You are the expert—we need your ideas on the best way to make sure everyone in your community gets counted. Find out how to help at census.gov/partners.

To make sure you and your community are counted, learn more about the 2020 Census by visiting 2020census.gov.

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