Everything you need to know about 2020 US Census

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The Supreme Court ponders whether a citizenship question should be included on the 2020 census form.

The 2020 U.S. Census is just around the corner. Here's everything you need to know.

The 2020 Census counts every person living in the United States and five U.S. territories—once, only once, and in the right place. This census is conducted every 10 years by the U.S. Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency. 

The results of the census determine your congressional representation as well as federal funding for states and communities. Every year, more than $675 billion goes toward hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and more.

It's also mandated by the Constitution: The United States has counted its population every 10 years since 1790.

If you live in the United States, you are required by law to participate in the 2020 count, even if you recently completed another survey from the Census Bureau. A complete and accurate count is critical, as the results of the 2020 Census will affect congressional representation, community funding, and more. 

When can you take the 2020 Census

By April 1, 2020, households will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. 

You can find a detailed timeline for 2020 Census activities here

How can you respond

By April 1, 2020, households will receive an invitation to participate in the census. You will then have three ways to respond:

  • Online
  • By phone
  • By mail

This marks the first time that you'll have the option to respond online. For some people, it's not always clear how they should count themselves or the people in their home. These circumstances can include:

  • People who live in more than one place.
  • People who are moving on Census Day.
  • People who are born or die on Census Day.
  • People experiencing homelessness.

For more information, visit Who to Count on Your Census.

About the Census questions

As required by the Census Act, the U.S. Census Bureau submitted a list of questions to Congress on March 29, 2018. Based on those questions, the 2020 Census will ask:

  • How many people are living or staying at your home on April 1, 2020. This will help us count the country's population, and ensure that we count people once, only once, and in the right place according to where they live on Census Day.
  • Whether the home is owned or rented. This will help us produce statistics about homeownership and renters. The rates of homeownership serve as one indicator of the nation's economy. They also help in administering housing programs and informing planning decisions.
  • About the sex of each person in the household. This allows us to create statistics about males and females, which can be used in planning and funding government programs. These data can also be used to enforce laws, regulations, and policies against discrimination.
  • About the age of each person in the household. Similar to recording the sex of each person, the U.S. Census Bureau creates statistics to better understand the size and characteristics of different age groups. Agencies use these data to plan and fund government programs that support specific age groups, including children and older populations.
  • About the race of each person in the household. This allows us to create statistics about race and to present other statistics by racial groups. These data help federal agencies monitor compliance with anti-discrimination provisions, such as under the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act.
  • About whether a person in the household is of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin. These responses help create statistics about this ethnic group. This is needed by federal agencies to monitor compliance with anti-discrimination provisions, such as those under the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act.
  • About the relationship of each person in the household to one central person. This allows the Census Bureau to create estimates about families, households, and other groups. Relationship data are used in planning and funding government programs that support families, including people raising children alone, and other households that qualify for additional assistance.
  • About the citizenship status of each person. A question about a person's citizenship is used to create statistics about citizen and noncitizen populations. These statistics are essential for enforcing the Voting Rights Act and its protections against voting discrimination.

The Census will never ask certain questions

The Census Bureau will never ask you for:

  • Your Social Security number.
  • Money or donations.
  • Anything on behalf of a political party.
  • Your bank or credit card account numbers.

If someone claiming to be from the Census Bureau asks you for one of these things, you may be the target or victim of a scam. For more information, visit Avoiding Fraud and Scams.

What happens to your answers?

Your personal information is kept confidential. We are bound by federal law to protect your information, and your data are used only for statistical purposes.

We combine your responses with information from other households to produce these statistics, which never identify your household or any person in your household. Learn more about how we protect your information.

How can you help or get involved with the 2020 Census

Add your voice to the groups already working to ensure a complete and accurate count in 2020. Complete Count Committees and partner organizations play a key role in raising awareness, answering questions, and encouraging their community members to participate.

Complete Count Committees are volunteer committees established by tribal, state, and local governments along with community leaders or organizations. They can include representatives of businesses, schools, community-based organizations, and faith-based groups.

Become a partner: Partnering with the Census Bureau gives you a chance to speak out for your community—and help ensure that the members of your community are counted accurately. From corporations to policymakers, nonprofits to software developers, the Census Bureau partners across sectors and industries.

Work for the Census

The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting thousands of people across the country to assist with the 2020 Census count. Apply here.

More helpful links:

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