Q: What is the decennial Census?

A: The Census is a count of every person in the United States by the U.S. Census Bureau. Mandated in the Constitution under Article I, Section 2, it has taken place every 10 years since 1790. The census is critical for determining each state’s representation in Congress and the distribution of more than $650 billion in federal funding for vital programs like public education, public housing, roads and bridges, and much more.

Q: Why is the Census important to me?

A: Responding to the Census is not only your civic duty; it also affects the amount of funding your community receives, how your community plans for the future, and your representation in government. Specifically, data from the 2020 Census are used to:

Ensure public services and funding for schools, hospitals, and fire departments.

Plan new homes and businesses and improve neighborhoods.

Determine how many seats your state is allocated in the House of Representatives.

Q: When will I complete the Census?

A: The next Census will take place in 2020. Beginning in mid-March, people will receive a notice in the mail to complete the 2020 Census. Once you receive it, you can respond online. In May, the U.S. Census Bureau will begin following up in person with households that haven’t responded to the Census.

In 2020, the Census will be conducted between mid-March and the end of July. This period is divided into two phases: the “self-response-only” phase and the “non-response follow-up” phase.

By mid-March of 2020, every household in the United States will receive a letter from the Census Bureau with information about how to fill out the census online. During the self-response-only period, the Census will be available online and by phone for the first time in history. At the end of the self-response-only phase the Census Bureau will send paper forms to households which have not responded online.

In approximately mid-May, the Census Bureau will begin to send enumerators, or “door-knockers”, to conduct non-response follow-ups for households that have still not completed the census. If no one answers the door after several attempts, the enumerators will either use administrative records or proxies to try to determine the information for that household.

Q: How can I respond?

A: In 2020, for the first time ever, the U.S. Census Bureau will accept responses online, but you can still respond by phone or mail if you prefer. Responding should take less time than it takes to finish your morning coffee.

Q: Do I have to respond?

A: Simple answer: Yes.

More complex answer: Respond when contacted the first time – if only to save taxpayers’ funds.

If you are living in the United States, you are legally required to respond to the U.S. Census and could be subject to a fine or limited prison term for non-compliance or false answers. However, the U.S. Census Bureau is not a prosecuting agency; and failure to provide information is unlikely to result in a fine.

Q: What questions will be asked?

A: How many people are living or staying at your home on April 1, 2020.

Whether the home is owned or rented.

About the sex of each person in your home.

About the age of each person in your home.

About the race of each person in your home.

About whether a person in your home is of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin.

About the relationship of each person in your home.

Q: Is my information safe?

A: Your information is completely safe with us. The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the United States Code, making it unlawful for any Bureau employee to disclose or publish any information that identifies an individual or business. This holds for all government entities as well, such as the FBI: none have the legal right to access this information. And for all Census data, the “72-Year Rule” applies: the government is not allowed to release data on individuals for 72 years. Census data on individuals from the 1940 census only became available in April of 2012. Census information is confidential and may be used only to prepare statistical reports. All Census Bureau employees take an oath of nondisclosure and are sworn for life to protect all information that could identify individuals. Any employee who violates the provisions of the oath is subject to a fine up to $250,000 or a prison sentence up to 5 years, or both. Furthermore, information is protected from cyber security risks and all questionnaires submitted online will be encrypted to protect the respondent’s privacy.

Q: How is my information used?

A: The Census Bureau is required by law to use Census information strictly for general statistics. Personal information will never be used or released.

Q: Who all needs to be counted in my home?

A: Each individual is counted separately, regardless of any demographic differences such as age or gender.

College students who live away from home should count themselves at the on-or-off-campus residence where they live and sleep most of the time, even if they are home on April 1, 2020.

Citizens of foreign countries who are living in the United States, including members of the diplomatic community, should be counted at the U.S. residence where they live and sleep most of the time.

Q: How can I stay wary of fraudulent Census requests?

A: Each individual is counted separately, regardless of any demographic differences such as age or gender.

For more information, please visit the 2020 Census website .

Do you have any questions about the Census in Black Hawk County?
Ask us and we will respond as soon as we can.
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