Census 2020

2020 Census FAQ

What are the Household and Small Business Pulse Surveys?
The Census Bureau wants to collect real-time information about what is happening in the nation’s population and economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data on employment changes, use of federal assistance programs, disruptions to supply chains and availability of products for customers, and other future operations plans will be collected via online surveys. Survey results will guide decisions on COVID-19 aid and recovery packages. 
The Household Pulse Survey invitation will be sent via email starting April 23, 2020, and the data collection will continue for 90 days. You can find more details about the Household Pulse Survey here. The Small Business Pulse Survey email invitations will be sent to nearly 1 million businesses in mid-May and data will be collected for nine weeks. More details on the Small Business Pulse Survey is available here.

What is the Census?
Article 1 of the United States Constitution requires that every ten years the federal government must count every person living in the U.S. and its five territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.) The first Census occurred in 1790 and the most recent before this year occurred in 2010. See how the information gathered through the Census has changed over time.

What is the Census Bureau?
In 1840 a Census Office was created to conduct the count- previously county marshals had been responsible for the Census in their jurisdictions. The current Bureau was formed in 1902 and added to Commerce in 1903. Besides the decennial Census, the Bureau also conducts the American Community Survey, the American Housing Survey, the National Longitudinal Survey, and many other vital data collections. The Bureau also provides public education on analysis and use of collected data. Find out more about the Bureau’s history

Who runs the Census Bureau?
The Census Bureau is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. While the Bureau is nonpartisan and its staff subject to the Hatch Act, its director is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate as are many other federal agencies. Its deputy director/chief operating officer is a career administrator. In 2020, the director of the Bureau is Steven
Dillingham and deputy director is Ron S. Jarmin. See more details on the Bureau’s leadership.

Why do we have a Census?
Besides being required by the Constitution, the Census count determines the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives of the 435 available.. The count also is used to create criteria and formulas that help distribute federal program funding and services. In 2018, Johnson County received $50.6 million for public schools, $87,069 for maternal and infant health support, and $11.3 million for highways based on 2010 Census data. See infographics about Johnson County impacts.

Who should be counted?
Per the Census Bureau, students living away from home at school should be counted at school in most cases, even if they are somewhere else right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They should be counted where they live and sleep most of the time when their schools are open.

Every person who is living in your house on April 1 should be included in your count, no matter how old they are. This means everyone who sleeps in your home most of the time as of April 1. Children who split their time between homes should be counted only where they are on April 1. Even if someone is living with you only temporarily- if they are living with you on April 1, they should be included in the count of your household. 

For more information on people living in special circumstances, contact the Census Bureau at 2020census.gov or (301) 763-4636 and (800) 923-8282.

When does the Census start/end?
The official count for 2020 started in January in remote areas of Alaska only accessible while the ground is frozen. In mid-March, invitations will be sent to residential addresses across the nation. The count of people in group residences like dorms and people who are unhoused begins in late March. May through July enumerators will visit households that have not yet responded. The count must be completed by December, when federal law demands that the Bureau will present their count to the President and Congress. Examine a detailed timeline.

Why is April 1 important?
“Census Day” is April 1. When you respond to the Census, even if you’re participating online on March 20, you tell the Bureau where you live and how many people live there with you most of the time as of April 1, 2020.

Do I have to participate?
Yes. Every single person living in the United States and its territories are required by law to participate, even babies and people who do not have residency documentation like a green card or visa. Foreign citizens who live in the U.S. most of the year are required to participate. 

How do I participate?
There are three ways to respond in 2020. For the first time, you can respond online using a unique code in the invitation mailed to your address in early March. The same code allows you to respond by telephone, instead. The invitation will have detailed instructions for each method. If no response is received by late May, enumerators (counters) will visit your address to conduct the count in person. View a sample paper questionnaire

Is my personal information safe if I participate online or by phone?
YES. Title 13 of the U.S. Code  restricts disclosure of individual/household information. Responses are closed for 72 years, after which records are freely available to the public. All Census employees must respect privacy laws, and they swear an oath that they will never share anyone’s information for the rest of their lives, even after they are no longer Census employees. Strong online security measures are in place to facilitate and protect your response. 

How is the info I provide used?
Your information is used to produce statistics about who lives in the United States. The 2020 Census will take a snapshot of us as people- where we live, how many of us there are, etc. Individual’s or household’s responses are not disclosed- your data is combined with everyone else’s. On April 2, 2092, your grandchildren might be thrilled to discover you and an infant parent when the National Archives and Records Administration releases the 2020 Census to the public in accordance with the “72 year rule.” 

Why are population statistics needed?
The number of people in a state determines its number of seats in the House of Representatives, and informs how the districts those seats represent are drawn by state legislatures. Federal funding for highway projects, school lunches, disaster response, senior housing, and myriad other programs is distributed based on Census data. Local governments, nonprofits, and businesses use Census statistics to help plan new school locations, public transit routes, expansion opportunities, etc.

What happens if I don’t respond?
You are required by law to respond. If you have not called, clicked, or mailed your response by the end of May, a Census enumerator will knock on your door to complete the count, and could return more than once a day for up to six days. If you refuse to participate, you could face penalties up to $5,000. If you provide false information on purpose, you could be fined up to $10,000. For more information, contact the Bureau at (301) 763-4636 or (800)-923-8282. 

My child is in the military or in college and doesn’t live at home most of the year. Should I count her in my household?
Per the Census Bureau, students living away from home at school should be counted at school in most cases, even if they are somewhere else right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They should be counted where they live and sleep most of the time when their schools are open.

Military personnel and college students who live in group housing like barracks and dorms will be counted in that housing, and should not be counted in your household. Military members temporarily deployed overseas should be counted at their usual home address. While foreign students should be counted where they are currently living in the U.S., American citizens living overseas to study or work should not be counted. Read up on responding in special circumstances.

Where is the first person counted this year?
The Census always starts in remote Alaskan villages than are only accessible during the freeze of winter. On January 21, 2020, the count started near the Bering Sea in Toksook Bay- population 590

I saw an ad on Facebook about a company that will get me a Census job. Should I pay them for help?
NO. You do not need to pay anyone for help finding Census employment. Johnson County Library hosts frequent visits from Census recruiters and the Bureau delivers flyers and posters to our branches often. If you see an ad or receive communication from anyone claiming to be a Census employee, call (800) 923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative. Find out more and apply for a job.

I got an email from the Census with a link for my response. Should I use it?
NO. The Census Bureau will never send you unsolicited email. You may receive an email response to your Census employment application or question submitted to the Census.gov website, but you should report any other “Census” emails by calling (800) 923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative.

A Census taker came to my door and asked for my Social Security number. Should I give it to him?
NO. No Census employee, questionnaire, or communication will ever request or require your Social Security Number, bank or credit card information, or money/donations. Call (800) 923-8282 to speak with a local Bureau employee and then report the visit to your local police.

How can I verify the identity of the Census worker at my door?
Census employees might need to visit your neighborhood to confirm addresses, check for new residential construction, or count residents. Employees will be wearing badges with their photos, a Commerce Department watermark, and an expiration date. Any employee will be happy to show you this proof. Do not hesitate to call (800) 923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau employee to verify the identity of the person at your door.

Where can I find information in my preferred language?
A drop down menu in the top right hand corner of the 2020 Census homepage translates the website into thirteen languages! Resources are available in 59 languages other than English, including American Sign Language and Braille, and in large print. 

Think you know everything Census now? Test your 2020 Census savvy!