What You Need to Know About the Census
Every 10 years, the federal government is required to count all residents in the United States, citizens and noncitizens alike, through a national census. The next national census is in April 2020. This information gathered is used to make sure everyone is equally represented in our political system and that government resources are allocated fairly.
It is also used to make important decisions about community programs and services, like where to build homes and parks, establish public transit routes, build new roads, and offer language access services.
Everyone is legally required to respond to the U.S. Census. You could be subject to a fine or limited prison term for not responding or providing false answers. However, the U.S. Census Bureau has not historically enforced these penalties.
WHAT WILL BE ASKED
Census 2020 will ask basic information about each household: the number of people living there, whether the residence is owned or rented, and a phone number to follow up. For each person living in the household, it will ask:
- Age / Date of Birth
- Race / Ethnicity
You should include everyone living with you, including children, extended family (aunts, cousins), and any nonfamily (friends, roommates).
CENSUS 2020 WILL NOT ASK ABOUT CITIZENSHIP OR IMMIGRATION STATUS
How the information will be used
The Census Bureau will use data for statistical purposes only. Your information is confidential. The Bureau combines your responses with information from other households to produce data, and the data will never identify your household or any person in your household. Your information is confidential.
By law, the Census Bureau CANNOT share your answers with anyone, not even the FBI, ICE, Welfare, or local code enforcement agencies.
All Census Bureau employees take a lifetime oath to protect your data. If they violate this oath, they will be fined $250,000 and could serve up to 5 years in jail.
How EVERYONE will be counted
The Census Bureau needs to count every person living in the U.S. on April 1, 2020, regardless of age, citizenship status, or criminal history.
Every residence will receive an invitation to complete the Census Questionnaire by April 1, 2020. Make sure someone in your household is responsible for filling out the form. It can be completed online, by phone or by mail in different languages.
If you household does not respond, the Census Bureau will send workers (called enumerators) to visit your residence and collect the information in person starting in May 2020.
People with unstable housing (including those who are homeless) will be counted in March 2020. The Census Bureau counts people at shelters, encampments, where food is distributed, and where people are known to sleep outdoors.
People living in nursing homes, correctional facilities, mental hospitals, dorms, barracks, group homes and other group quarters will be counted in April 2020 by the Census Bureau.
Ways to participate
You will receive an invitation in the mail by April 1, 2020 to participate in Census 2020.
You have different options for completing the census form:
- Online (in English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Japanese)
- By Phone (in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Japanese) (includes TDD)
- By Mail (in English and Spanish)
If you need help filling out the census form, there will be assistance centers across the County.
If your household does not respond, the Census Bureau will send workers (called enumerators) to visit your residence and collect the information in person starting in May 2020.
- History of the US Census 1790-2020
- US Census Bureau: Why We Ask Fact Sheet
- US Census Bureau: Census 101 - What You Need to Know
- US Census Bureau: Confidentiality Fact Sheet for Census 2020
- US Census Bureau: How everyone will be invited to respond to Census 2020
- US Census Bureau: Census 2020 sample questionnaire