Each home in the United States (including the five U.S. territories) should have received an invitation to complete the 2020 Census in March. Paper questionnaires to the 2020 Census were mailed in April to those households who had not already responded via phone or email. If you haven't already answered, now is the perfect time to do it!
What is the Census?
The Census counts the population of the United States every 10 years. It began in 1790 with a counting of the original 13 colonies and the districts of Kentucky, Maine, and Vermont, and the Southwest Territory (what is now Tennessee). It shows how our country has changed (the population of the U.S. in 1790 was just over 3.9 million, by 2010 it grew to over 300 million) and how it hasn't (New York City has been the most populous city in every Census).
Why answer the 2020 Census?
The numbers recorded in the Census influence a lot of decisions made by federal, state, and local governments. It shows where communities need additional resources like new schools, new clinics, new roads, and more services for families, older adults, and children. It helps determine how federal funds for hospitals, fire departments, and critical programs and services are distributed. An underreported community could receive less funds than its true population requires.
It will also determine the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives as well as help draw congressional and legislative districts. The results from the Census are used to adjust or redraw electoral districts based on where populations have increased or decreased.
Who should be counted?
The questionnaire should be filled out about you and every individual, no matter how old or how young, living in your household on April 1, 2020. This includes foreign citizens living in the United States and babies born before or on April 1. Even if your household did not receive an invitation in the mail, you should still answer the questionnaire.
There may be special instructions if you are a college student, an active duty service member, living in a health care facility, living in a shelter, or otherwise do not have a permanent home. See Who to Count for a detailed list of scenarios and how to make sure you are counted.
What questions does it ask?
It asks for the name, age, sex, and race of each person living in the household. The questionnaire also asks how each person in the household is related to the person who fills out the questionnaire. The Census website includes a detailed slideshow of the questions asked and includes an explanation about why each question is asked.
Is my information protected?
Yes! The Census is confidential and used only for statistical purposes. The Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about you, your home, or your business, even to law enforcement agencies. The law ensures that your private data is protected and that your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court. See How the Census Bureau Protects Your Data to find out more.
How do I fill it out?
The 2020 Census can be filled out online, by phone, or by mail. If completing the Census online, you must complete the questionnaire in one sitting as it does not have the ability to save your progress. Find out more about filling out the Census on Responding to the Census.
Do I have to answer in English?
No. The Census can be completed online or by phone in 13 different languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Japanese. There are also guides in 59 non-English languages to help people fill out the Census. Check out Language Support for the full list.
When is the deadline to complete it?
Beginning this week, census takers will interview homes that haven't responded to the 2020 Census to help make sure everyone is counted. Apportionment counts will be delivered to the President and Congress in December, and redistricting counts will be sent to the states by March 31, 2021. See the list of Important Dates for more information.
Have more questions? Check out 2020census.gov.