13 important things to know about the upcoming Census

The census matters, maybe more than you’re imagining

The Census is coming. As soon as next month, you could receive your questionnaire, which will take about 10 minutes to complete.

The Census is upon us -- have you thought about it much?

Your questionnaire only takes about 10 minutes to complete.

It’s quick, easy and oh-so important. But there’s some misinformation floating around, so we thought we’d share 13 things to know.

1.) This is the first time you’ll be able to fill out your information online.

But if you’d rather not, that’s perfectly fine, too. People can answer the Census on the phone, by mail or online -- your choice!

2.) The questionnaire goes live on the internet March 12.

The Census Bureau will start sending out letters on this day that contain a unique code that makes filling out the Census online easier -- but keep in mind, the code isn’t necessary to self-report online.

The window is officially March 12 through March 20, in which households will begin receiving official Census Bureau mail with detailed information on how to respond.

3.) The Census questionnaire does NOT contain a citizenship question.

And yes, foreign citizens who live in the U.S. should be counted.

By the way, by law, the Census Bureau cannot share your answers with the IRS, FBI, Welfare, Immigration or any other government agency. They cannot currently work as tax collectors, assessors or law enforcement officials.

“Protecting the privacy of people who reply to the census is an important part of every census taker’s training,” census.gov says.

4.) Here’s a guide for figuring out how to count yourself, if you’re in a unique circumstance ...

  • Students away at college should be counted at the campus where they’re living as of April 1.
  • Military personnel deployed overseas should be counted at their U.S. home addresses.
  • Incarcerated people should be counted at their facilities.

5.) The census matters -- maybe more than you’re imagining.

The number of people in an area determines how much federal funding the region receives for Medicare and Medicaid, schools and school lunch programs, low-income food assistance and road construction.

The population also helps determine how many Congressional districts a state will have.

And businesses make decisions on where to expand and open new stores based on the population and demographics of an area.

If you’re counted, your neighborhood is more likely to have the jobs and services you want.

6.) The Census Bureau isn’t trying to obtain your personal information. It just wants to count you.

So this means the Bureau will never send an unsolicited email, or ask for a Social Security number or bank or credit card information. If someone comes to your door claiming to be with the Census Bureau, that person should have a valid ID badge with their photo, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date.

7.) You’re most likely to be undercounted if ...

You’re homeless, in a racial minority or a child younger than age 5.

8.) The first U.S. Census was in 1790.

Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson was in charge, and 3,929,214 people were counted.

In 2010, our number was 308,745,538.

9.) The Bureau takes three days to count people who are experiencing homelessness.

This year, those dates are March 30 to April 1. 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.

10.) April 1 is Census Day.

The day is observed nationwide.

By this date, every home will have received an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census.

It’s simple: When you respond to the census, you’ll tell the Bureau where you live as of April 1, 2020.

11.) Home visits are set for this summer.

In May to July, census takers will visit homes that haven’t responded to the Census, to help make sure everyone is counted.

12.) Delivery happens in December.

This is when the Census Bureau will deliver apportionment counts to the President and Congress, as required by law.

13.) It affects redistricting, as well.

By March 31, 2021, the Census Bureau will send redistricting counts to states. This information is used to redraw legislative districts based on population changes.

Source: U.S. Census

Do you have any questions about the census? Drop them below and we’ll try to get you an answer.

About the Author:

Michelle is the Managing Editor of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which writes for all of the company's news websites.