April 1 – today – is Census Day, and that means it’s time for the Constitutionally mandated count of the United States population. By now you should have received an official invitation to answer the count (and hopefully you have some extra time on your hands to get it done — btw, it only takes a few minutes to complete).
The 2020 count includes the United States and five U.S. territories.
○ You can respond to the questionnaire online, by phone or mail.
○ Most households should have already received documents with directions about how to respond to the Census questionnaire. Check out a sample questionnaire here.
○ If you have not received information about how to respond, contact the bureau or keep reading to find out how to respond without the documents.
Why do we need a population count?
○ The Constitution mandates that the country count its population once every 10 years.
○ Billions of dollars in federal funding for hospitals, fire departments, roads and schools, among other necessities, are based on census data.
○ The census data also determines the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives. And that information is used to draw state and congressional legislative districts.
How’s it going locally so far?
On March 21, the U.S. Census Bureau released initial response rates for each state, county, and city across the country. Here’s what it looks like.
○ 16.7% of households have responded since invites started arriving on March 12
○ 35.7% of Florida households have responded
○ 36% of Polk County households have responded
Okay, so what do I need to do?
○ You should have gotten information about how to fill out the questionnaire, which you can do online or via the physical form.
○ If you prefer real paper, use a pen with blue or black ink or a No. 1 pencil to fill out the form. Mail it back in the paid-postage return envelope. Yay, you’re finished!
○ If you have lost the envelope, the address to send questionnaires is here, and if you have questions, you can call 1-800-354-7271.
○ If you want to complete the questions online, you just need to know your 12-digit ID number. That information could have come in one of two mailed documents — one inviting you to fill out the Census questionnaire online or another mailing, which is the physical paper questionnaire.
○ To get started, enter your number here. The entire process should only take between 5-15 minutes.
○ If you don’t have either of those documents, you can still respond online. Details here.
○ If you don’t respond, a Census Bureau representative may call or visit you.
Other local resources
Interested in working for the census? Click here.