Update (4/17): The Census Bureau has extended the response date through October 31. Door-to-door follow-up to households that have not responded will begin in August, not May as originally scheduled.
Did you receive an invitation in the mail to complete the 2020 Census but have questions? If you are wondering what the census is, how to fill it out, or why it even matters, read on!
The Constitution of the United States mandates that the country conduct a count of its population once every ten years. The very first census took place 230 years ago in 1790 when U.S. marshals traveled by horseback and on foot to the 13 original states, the districts of Kentucky, Maine, and Vermont, and the Southwest Territory (now Tennessee) and collected responses on parchment. Today, the 2020 Census counts everyone living in the United States and the territories of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Rather than record responses on parchment, participants in the 2020 Census will respond online, by phone, or by mail.
The census is far from an antiquated tradition. Data collected from the census determines the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives and as well as how congressional and state legislative districts are drawn. Census data also influences the decisions lawmakers and business owners will make for the next decade, such as where to build new schools, clinics, and roads or where to open new stores and recruit employees. Responses also influence how federal funding is distributed for services like Medicaid, Head Start, and SNAP. Census results even help libraries like JMRL plan services and programs for patrons.
Census Day is April 1, but that doesn’t mean you must complete the census by or on that day. Rather, April 1 serves as a benchmark so residents can share what their households look like on a universal date. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Census Bureau has extended the deadline for self-responses to August 14, 2020 and strongly encourages the public to respond online. Below are resources for completing the census:
- Responding Online
- Responding by Phone
- Responding by Mail
- Questions Asked on the Form
- Who To Count
- Language Support
- Important Dates
Ready to begin? Visit https://my2020census.gov/ today. Answers are confidential and private.