What You Need to Know About the 2020 Census
When the Founding Fathers created the Constitution in 1787, the goal was to put into place guidelines for how to make our nascent country as successful as possible. One of the most important, yet often overlooked, mandates they suggested was instituting a Census.
What is the Census?
The Census is a Constitutionally-required count of every single person in the U.S. done once every 10 years. It consists of 9 short questions that cover things like your age, sex, and number of people in your household and helps establish more than $13 billion in federal funding for Colorado. To get more granular, that’s an estimated $1.4 billion in federal funding for the Denver community each year.
History of the Census
Starting in 1790, the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 2) mandated a headcount every 10 years of everyone residing in the United States: in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the Island Areas. This includes people of all ages, races, ethnic groups, citizens, and noncitizens.
How Does It Work?
Because the Census is such an important event, public officials want to make it as easy as possible for everyone to participate. For the 2020 Census, the process has become even easier. Every household will receive a letter addressed to the residents of their home. This letter will provide the homeowner with a unique code that they can use to complete their Census online or over the telephone in about 10 minutes. The participant will be responsible for detailing who lives in their home in a series of 9 questions:
- Phone number
- Age and Date of Birth
- Hispanic, Latino or Spanish Origin
- Household tenure (own/rent)
- Number of persons in the household
- Does a person usually stay or live somewhere else?
Why Does the Census Matter?
The Census is important for many different reasons. Besides being a source of significant federal funding as mentioned earlier, an accurate Census count also helps:
- Federal, state, and local leaders make decisions about schools, hospitals, emergency services, roads, bridges, job training centers, and many other projects that affect your community.
- Residents use the Census to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality-of-life, and consumer advocacy.
- Businesses use Census data to decide where to build factories, offices and stores, which create jobs.
- Real estate developers use the Census to build new homes and revitalize older neighborhoods.
- Apportionment of S. House of Representative Seats. Using the count from the decennial Census, the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are redistributed based on population. Based on 2020 Census data, it is likely that Colorado could gain an additional House seat, creating Colorado House District 8.
Keeping Personal Information Secure
With privacy concerns growing day by day, the Census Bureau has taken dramatic steps to ensure all of the information they collect is only used to count every individual. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents’ answers with anyone, including other federal agencies and law enforcement entities. All Census Bureau employees take an oath of non-disclosure and are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of the data. The penalty for unlawful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment of up to five years, or both.
Even though the actual Census doesn’t start until March 2020, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the information we’ve shared here. Your participation matters. To learn more, visit denvergov.org/census2020.
Information provided by 2020 Census/Denver
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