What is the Census?
The Census, conducted every 10 years, attempts to count every person living in the United States. The 2020 Census will be the 22nd census in our history. By law, everyone is required to respond.
Who runs the federal Census?
Why is the Census conducted?
The U.S. Constitution requires a population count to make sure people are accurately reflected in the distribution of seats in the federal House of Representatives. Additionally, federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities are based on population totals and breakdowns by sex, age, race and other factors.
When does the Census happen?
- March 12-20, 2020: the Census Bureau mails invitations to most homes inviting them to complete the Census online or via phone. The online response page and phone response call centers go live.
- March 16-24, 2020: reminder letters are sent to those who haven’t responded yet.
- March 30-April 1, 2020: the Census Bureau counts those experiencing homelessness.
- April 2020: the Census Bureau counts those living in “group quarters” such as college dorms, hospitals, nursing facilities, group homes, military barracks, correctional facilities, etc.
- April 8-16, 2020: reminder letters are sent again and may include a paper form.
- May-July 2020: Census Bureau staff visit homes that have not yet responded.
How can I respond to the Census?
You should receive a mailing from the Census Bureau. It will describe three options:
- Online – Responding online will be available starting on March 12, 2020. Your mailing should include a website and a one-time Census ID to help you log in. The site can be accessed from any internet enabled device (mobile phones, computers, tablets). Visit https://my2020census.gov/ to complete the Census online.
Note: You must complete your submission in one sitting – you can’t save a draft and come back later. If you leave your partial work without submitting for more than 15 minutes your incomplete form will delete itself for your privacy.
- Phone – The Census invitation will also include a toll-free number if you prefer to complete the questionnaire via the phone between the hours of 6am and 1am CST. You can call the Census Bureau Chicago Regional Office at 1 (800) 865-6384 with any questions.
- Mail – If you choose to respond by mail, fill out all questions carefully and legibly. The return address envelope should be to a U.S. Census Bureau facility in Jeffersonville, Indiana.
Responding to the 2020 Census
- The Census Bureau estimates filling out your response should take about 10 minutes.
- Do not leave any questions blank.
- Respond where you live as of April 1, 2020. You may submit your response before April 1.
- You will not be asked if you are a U.S. citizen.
- Information submitted is private under U.S. Code Title 13. Your individual responses cannot be released to law enforcement or any other department of the government. Census Bureau employees take an oath to protect the privacy of responses and can be find or jailed for violations, even after they no longer work for the Census Bureau.
- U.S. Code Title 44 opens up census records for historical and genealogical research 72 years after they’re taken. 2020 census records will not be available until April 2092.
Avoiding Census Scams
- Census Bureau workers present an ID badge with name, photo, expiration date, Department of Commerce logo, and they will have a Department of Commerce electronic device. If you’re contacted as a part of the 2020 Census and are unsure if it’s legitimate or not, call 1 (800) 923-8282 to talk to a local Census Bureau staffer or to report suspected fraud. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org with any reports of rumors or misinformation. You may also contact the Census Bureau Chicago Regional Office at 1 (800) 865-6384 or email@example.com with any questions or concerns.
- The Census Bureau WILL NOT:
- Call you.
- Ask for your Social Security number.
- Ask for your mother’s maiden name.
- Ask for money or donations.
- Ask anything about political parties.
- Ask about citizenship.
- Ask for your bank or credit card account information.
- Email or text message you.
All information was adapted from reputable sources like the Commerce Department, Census Bureau, Government Printing Office, and the American Library Association.