The U.S. Census Bureau began its 2020 decennial census Jan. 21 in the rural village of Toksook Bay, Alaska.
National Census Day, however, isn’t officially observed until April 1.
Robert F. Toth Jr., census office manager with the Philadelphia Regional Census Center-Allentown Area, reported his office, which covers Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon, Monroe, Luzerne, Lackawanna, Pike and Wayne counties, is still in the recruiting phase of hiring workers, as of Jan. 17.
Every 10 years, the U.S. Constitution mandates a census to be conducted to count everyone in the United States.
Data from the census provides the basis for distributing more than $675 billion in federal funds annually to communities across the country to support programs affecting housing, education, transportation, employment, health care and public policy.
The count is also used to redraw boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts and to determine the number of congressional seats each state has in the House of Representatives.
Toth said households across the United States will receive a postcard in the mail with detailed information about the census and how citizens can respond online or by calling starting in mid-March.
“By the middle of April, if people have not responded by phone or online, they will receive a hard-copy census questionnaire in the mail,” Toth said.
He added census workers will knock on the doors of anyone who has not responded by the beginning to middle of May. Responding to the census is mandatory.
From March 30 to April 1, the Census Bureau will count the homeless and those living in shelters, at soup kitchens, on the streets and at tent encampments.
In April, census takers will begin visiting college students who live on campus, senior care homes and other locations where large groups of people live.
“The 2020 census is the first time we are using technology to enumerate the population,” Toth said. “People can’t respond with a cellphone. We don’t have an app for people to respond over the Internet on their cellphones. They will need a laptop, desktop computer or telephone.”
Toth noted the 2020 census is 100-percent confidential.
According to information provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, responses to questions will not publicly be released in any way that could identify an individual.
Information will not be shared with immigration enforcement agencies, such as ICE, or law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI or police, or be used to determine eligibility for government benefits.
The Census Bureau will never ask for:
• Social Security numbers
• Bank or credit card account numbers
• Money or donations
• Anything on behalf of a political party
Some questions on the census include:
• How many people were living or staying in your home, apartment or mobile home as of April 1, 2020?
• What is your name, sex, age, date of birth, race and telephone number?
• Is your residence a house, apartment or mobile home?
In addition to the decennial census, the U.S. Census Bureau also conducts four types of surveys.
The American Community Survey is an ongoing national survey. Approximately 3.5 million addresses are sampled annually. This survey provides information about housing and people.
The demographic survey measures income, poverty, education, health insurance coverage, housing quality, crime victimization, computer usage and other subjects.
Economic surveys are conducted monthly, quarterly and yearly. They cover selected sectors of the economy and supplement the economic census, which is done every five years, with more frequent information about the economy.
The sponsored surveys are demographic and economic surveys that the Census Bureau conducts for other government agencies.
For more information on the census, visit 2020census.gov.