All Your Census Questions Answered
2020 is a U.S. Census year! The census happens every 10 years to count everyone in the United States. You might be feeling some confusion, mistrust or hesitation around taking the census. Those feelings are completely valid, but we hope this information and additional resources provided will help you feel empowered to participate.
First of all, there is no citizenship question on the census – only the Census Bureau can access the information – not the White House, the FBI or ICE. Your personal data is kept private for 72 years and is protected by federal law. Personal information is removed from the demographic data when it is used for statistics.
Below, we answer the who, what, when, where and why to cover all the questions you might have.
Who is the Census For?
Everyone! The census was written into the U.S. Constitution for the purpose of counting every person living in the United States. This means everyone. Those who are undocumented, those experiencing homelessness, those in dormitories and apartments and houses, kids and adults, on all walks of life – everyone counts! We especially need to count populations who have been historically undercounted in Minnesota: racial and ethnic minorities, renters and those who don’t live in traditional housing, people experiencing homelessness, Native people, undocumented immigrants, people with disabilities, children under age five, snowbirds, non-English speakers and low-income Minnesotans.
What is the Census?
The census is a tool for democracy and political empowerment.
It was written in the U.S. Constitution so that the makeup of the people would be reflected in the makeup of congressional representation. It is used to decide state and local representation as well as where federal money is spent in our communities.
The first census took place in 1790 and has taken place every 10 years since. The census is one of the biggest ways we can shape and influence our government and what happens in our neighborhoods at federal, state and local levels.
When Can I Take the Census?
The Census Bureau has been sending out information and invitations for months. The census went live on March 12.
- April 1 is Census Day. The goal is for as many people to complete the census on this day as possible.
- For incomplete census forms or census forms not filled out, follow-ups will happen through late August.
Where Can I Take the Census?
You can fill out the census form in three ways:
- Online at my2020census.gov
- Use the unique code that was mailed to you or just click “respond” without a code.
- Using a paper form that was mailed to you. Learn More
- By phone by calling 1-844-330-2020
There are language guides available.
Why Should I Take the Census?
- Representation for our communities: state and local counts from the census decide how much representation we get. In 2010, Minnesota cities lost city council seats due to undercounts. This year, if we don’t accurately count all Minnesotans, we may lose a seat in Congress (we currently have eight). Less representation means less say in the decisions that affect us.
- Funding for our communities: Minnesota gets $15 billion in federal funding each year! Data from the census is what determines it. This funding adds up to just shy of $2800 per Minnesotan per year or $28,000 per Minnesotan per decade of funds that go to our infrastructure like roads, to programs like children’s health insurance, and to decisions like what languages government services are translated into.
An accurate count is important because this data is what will be used for 10 years! If our state and neighborhoods are undercounted, those undercounted numbers will be used for those decisions.
Fill out one form with answers for everyone in your household (e.g. If you live with roommates, you will fill out one form together. If you live with family, you will fill out one form – including babies and kids!)
You can leave some questions blank, but know that incomplete forms may result in a follow-up visit or call from the Census Bureau.