What is the 2020 Census?
The 2020 Census counts every person living in the United States. The count is mandated by the Constitution and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency. The 2020 Census counts the population in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each home will receive an invitation to respond to a short questionnaire—online, by phone, or by mail. This will mark the first time that you will be able to respond to the census online.
Why is it so important?
The results are critically important because this once-a-decade census data helps businesses, researchers, and communities make decisions. There are many ways the 2020 Census can shape your community. For example, the data can help inform where your community needs:
- Representation: The decennial count of all U.S. residents is required by the U.S. Constitution to determine representation in Congress and the Electoral College (known as reapportionment). This data is also the basis for drawing districts for federal, state, and local offices (known as redistricting).
- Funding: The Census is key to the allocation of billions of dollars in federal funding to states and localities for all kinds of programs and capital improvements, such as the NYS grants received to help renovate the Library in 2009.
- Information: Data resulting from the Census is widely used by researchers, governments, businesses, and other organizations to, for example, plan for a new school, a new road, more funding for school lunches, etc.
What happens on Census Day, April 1, 2020?
By April 1, 2020 all households should complete and submit their census data. All NOPL locations will provide refreshments and computer assistance to everyone stopping in on Census Day to complete their questionnaire. Learn more >
About the Census questionnaire:
How long is the questionnaire?
The form is 10 questions and will take about 20 minutes to complete, depending on how many people reside at your address.
What are the questions on the 2020 Census form?
See an informational copy of the 2020 Census questions.
How do I fill out the form for my household? Who do I count?
If you are filling out the census for your home, you should count everyone who is living there as of April 1, 2020. This includes anyone who is living and sleeping there most of the time. If someone is staying in your home on April 1, and has no usual home elsewhere, you should count them in your response to the 2020 Census.
How do I submit the form?
You can answer the questions via the Internet and submit the form online. OR you can call-in your answers. OR put the paper form with your answers in the U.S. mail.
Will I be asked about my citizenship status?
NO. On July 2, 2019 the federal government decided to eliminate the citizenship question from the 2020 Census.
Is it against the law to ignore the census form?
Yes, participation in the U.S. Census is required by law in Title 13 of the United States Code.
Will my data be kept private?
Yes, the U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to protect your answers and keep them strictly confidential. Law-enforcement agencies are prohibited, by law, from receiving any personally identifiable information from your census questionnaire.
How can I avoid fraud and scams?
The U.S. Census Bureau NEVER asks for your social security number, your bank account or credit card numbers, money or donations. AARP has a page of tips on how to avoid census fraud and how to report suspected fraud.
How do I identify an official census worker in person or over the phone?
Census workers must present an ID badge that includes their photo, the U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. You can use the Census Bureau’s Staff Search page or contact the New York Regional office for assistance.
When can you expect your Census postcard? The following timeline includes key dates for the 2020 Census.
- March 12 – 20, 2020 – Invitation postcards sent to households to respond online or by phone
- March 16 – April 4, 2020 – Reminder letters sent
- April 1, 2020 – Census Day! Your response should be submitted by April 1st
- April 8 – 16, 2020 – Reminder letters with paper surveys sent to households that have not responded online
- May – July, 2020 – In-person follow-up visits by Census enumerators