There’s Still Time To Complete The Census: Here’s Why It Matters
By Sue Kilgore
For the GPHN
The U.S. Constitution requires an “actual enumeration” of all people, not just citizens, living in the United States every 10 years. That count has happened each decade since 1790.
Here’s why it matters: The primary purpose for the census is to determine the number of congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state will receive. But census numbers are also used by federal and state governments to decide how and where government funding will be used for health care, schools, and other public services. Cities and private industry use census figures to plan hospital expansions, housing and other developments, and assess the need for new schools or businesses. In other words, an accurate count will help to shape the future of our city and state.
It’s an enormous job. Data collection for the 2020 census began this year on Jan. 21, when census workers traveled by bush plane and snowmobile to Toksook Bay, Alaska, estimated population 66, before the spring thaw made travel to their villages impossible.
The rest of the country received their first census invitations by mail in March. Paper questionnaires were delivered directly to those without physical delivery locations (e.g., P.O. boxes). The Census Bureau also conducts special operations to count people with no fixed address or who live in dormitories, nursing homes, prisons, shelters, transient housing, and other group or nonstandard housing.
Those who did not respond earlier may have received a visit from a census worker. This year, these operations have been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. Households can still complete the census online or by phone. Here are some important things to remember:
• By law, the Census Bureau cannot share answers with other government agencies, including welfare, immigration, other law enforcement, or the Internal Revenue Service.
• The 2020 census does not contain a citizenship question.
If you have not completed your census questionnaire, you can respond online at my2020census.gov, or by phone at 844-468-2020 (Spanish) or 844-330-2020 (English).