The 2020 Census is a population count of every person living in the United States and its five territories as of April 1. Beginning in March 2020, households across the country will begin receiving invitations to respond to the 2020 Census. Every 10 years since 1790, as mandated by the Constitution, the U.S. Census Bureau has conducted this count. Results of the 2020 Census will shape how billions of dollars in federal funds are allocated to communities for critical public services such as healthcare, education, infrastructure, and public safety.
The results of the census also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, and they are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.
The 2020 Census will be the 24th time the nation has counted its population – and it will be the first time everyone can respond online, by phone, or by mail.
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Why the 2020 Census is important
Census statistics aren’t just about which state or city has grown the most over the last 10 years. Statistics compiled from census responses help businesses, researchers, and communities make decisions about funding for everything from school buildings and lunches and new bridges or roads, to fire departments, rural assistance programs, and more.
Knowing who lives throughout the nation means that communities can better support programs and services benefitting people aged 65 and older, low-income people, veterans, children, and newborns.
Participating in the census is required by law, even if you recently completed another survey from the Census Bureau such as the American Community Survey. When you respond to the 2020 Census, you are helping to shape the future of your community by being counted.
How to respond to the 2020 Census
Most households will receive an invitation to respond to the 2020 Census beginning in mid-March. At that time, one person should respond on behalf of the entire household online, by phone, or by mail. Responding early and on your own reduces the need for census takers to visit you in person to help you complete the questionnaire.
Be sure to count everyone who lives and sleeps in your home most of the time. That includes relatives, friends, or others. And count all children, including newborns. If you’re unsure who to count, visit 2020census.gov to learn more.
For some communities and locations, there are different timelines and processes for responding to the 2020 Census. This includes people who live in Puerto Rico and U.S. Island Areas, remote areas in Alaska and northern Maine, areas that have experienced a natural disaster, group living arrangements (e.g., on-campus student housing, military bases, shelters), and people experiencing homelessness. Learn more at 2020census.gov.
You should try to complete your questionnaire as soon as possible to help ensure everyone is counted once, only once, and in the right place.
Protecting 2020 Census responses
The Census Bureau is bound by federal law to protect the confidentiality of your responses to the 2020 Census. Title 13 of the U.S. Code prohibits employees from sharing identifiable information with anyone, including law enforcement and immigration agencies.
All Census Bureau employees take a sworn oath to protect your personal information for life.
Responding to the 2020 Census is safe and secure. The Census Bureau follows industry best practices and federal requirements to protect individual responses during the collection of responses to storage and reporting. That means the Census Bureau is continually refining its approach to identifying, preventing, detecting, and responding to cyber threats and other potential dangers to the confidentiality of responses to the 2020 Census.
Learn more about how the Census Bureau protects your information here.
For more information about the 2020 Census, start here.