April 1, 2020 is the national U.S. Census Day.
It’s mandated by the constitution and has been collected every 10 years since 1790, according to a spokesperson with the Census Bureau.
The census serves to collect basic information on all persons living in the U.S. Preparation for 2020 started as early
as 2012, with quarterly Census Program Management Reviews.
Differences for 2020
Historically, mail and phone calls were the only methods to fill out the census form.
This will be the first year that the census form can be completed online. This will also be the easiest method to fill out the form. While the printed copy will be available in Spanish and English the census is available in 13 languages online.
In regards to questions about nationality, this census adds more detailed questions about ethnicity. For example if you choose “white” as your race, you can then select a country of origin, like England or Norway.
Immigration status may also be included, depending on a decision by the Supreme Court later this month. Part of the American Community Survey (ACS) is asking about place of birth, citizenship and year of entry. The question about citizenship is set to be part of the 2020 census. According to NPR, there is no direct precedent for this set of questions, and it is facing legal challenges
The Census Bureau and ACS make it clear that all answers are confidential and by law cannot be supplied to other government or law enforcement agencies.
Why fill out a census form?
The census is required by the U.S. constitution to be run every 10 years.
“It’s very important for people to respond to the census, it impacts their community in many different ways,” said a Census Bureau spokesperson. “We want everyone to respond to the census.”
The census tracks population shifts. The body of general information is used for academics and journalists alike. Most importantly, the census determines statewide and national representation in congress, and steers $675 billion in government funds. These funds can be for roads, schools and hospitals. Planning commissions use information to spend money.
The census costs $15.6 billion to conduct. The most expensive part is non-response follow-ups, which must be done in person by a temporary census employee.
About the form itself
The census questions overall stay the same each census.
As a document, it is about 3.5 pages long and includes detailed questions about the persons living in your household. It includes names, ages, and ethnicity.
It also asks about how everyone in the house is related, such as family members or roommates.
The overall goal it to count every person only once, and in the right place.
Go to www.census.gov for more information.