The 2020 Census: April 1 is census day
By Census Bureau/MMC staff
Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a census to count every resident in the United States. The census is conducted in years ending in zero, with a reference day of April 1.
For the 2020 census, the Census Bureau is providing three modes of response – via internet, over the phone, or by returning a paper questionnaire. Wisconsin residents should have received their first invitation to respond to the 2020 Census March 12-20; others have followed.
Participation is essential for accurate government representation in the state and country, and assures proper allocation of federal spending.
“The Census has a lot of impacts, but two have highly visible impacts on your community – legislative apportionment, and federal spending,” said Robert O. Giblin, of the U.S. Census Bureau Chicago Region. “The Census determines how the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives will be apportioned throughout the country. Federal spending is another big impact, and some of that goes right down to your local community and county levels. Each year, $675 billion will be distributed annually, based on Census information.
“Federal spending based on the census impacts each community in a lot of ways. Money may come back to the state, county and local communities through things like health and medical programs; nutrition assistance and the school lunch program; or energy assistance and housing programs. It may come back through grants for schools, parks, education and library services, or fire and emergency services. Of course, a big one is funding for highway and road planning and construction. Regardless of how you use the roads – foot, bicycle, motorcycle, car, truck or horse and buggy – federal money allocated based on the census affects you.”
As of March 25, nationwide response to the census was averaged at 28.1 percent, while the state of Wisconsin was at 35 percent.
The history it holds
The first U.S. census was held in 1790, during the first term of the first president, George Washington. Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson led the effort. The population counted was 3,929,625. Congress used these results to apportion 105 seats among the 15 states.
Since that time, the census has held the key to our past, providing information for genealogical research. The records also depict the state of our country, holding information on slavery, changes in commerce, nationality among our communities, disabilities, family dynamics, and other demographics.
The 1790 census was much simpler, gathering just the head of household, number of “free white males” 16 years and old, number of “free white females,” number of all other people, number of slaves, and the town or district.
That information grew over time to provide a more elaborate snapshot of the country’s inhabitants every 10 years. Census records up to the 1940 census are available for research.
Genealogists eagerly await the release of the 1950 census, scheduled for April 2022, to unlock the door to the vast information it holds.
Adjustments due to COVID-19
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the U.S. Census Bureau has adjusted 2020 Census operations in order to protect federal employees and the public, while ensuring a complete and accurate count of all communities.
The self-response timeline has been extended to August 14, while all follow up collecting has been delayed.
Should any additional adjustment become necessary, the Census Bureau will publish the change in an updated document.
Protecting your information
Phishing is a criminal act in which someone tries to get your information by pretending to be an entity that you trust. Phishing emails often direct you to a website that looks real but is fake, and may be infected with malware.
It is important to know that the Census Bureau will not send unsolicited emails to request your participation in the 2020 Census. The Census Bureau will never ask for: your Social Security number, your bank account or credit card numbers, anything on behalf of a political party, money or donations.
In addition, the Census Bureau will not contact you on behalf of a political party.
If someone visits your home to collect a response for the 2020 Census, you can do the following to verify their identity: Check to make sure that they have a valid ID badge, with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date.
If you still have questions about their identity, you can call 844-330-2020 to speak with a Census Bureau representative.
For more information, visit https://2020census.gov.