2020 marks the start of a new decade and the U.S. Census is upon us again!

What is the Census?

The United States Constitution requires that there be a count of the population every ten years. The Census attempts to count every person living in the United States and U.S. territories. It provides important information on population trends and the demographics of the U.S. population.

Census data is used to determine the allocation of over 675 billion dollars annually in funding for hospitals, schools, infrastructure, fire departments, and other resources for communities. The population count is also used to draw congressional and state legislative districts. It also determines the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Why should I participate?

Participation in the Census is required by law. But beyond that, hundreds of billions of dollars of federal funding are at stake. An accurate count will make sure that cities and states receive the appropriate funding from the federal government. For example, if there is an inaccurate count, the city of Philadelphia would lose $2,000 each year per uncounted individual. The city estimates that it could lose up to nine million dollars a year if the census count is not accurate.

What should I expect?

This March, the U.S. Census Bureau will be sending out postcards in the mail with a code that is necessary to fill out the Census questionnaire. The questionnaire can then be filled out and submitted online, by mail, or by phone (12 different languages will be accommodated). The survey should take about 30 minutes to complete. This should be completed by April 1st of this year.

In the meantime, it’s important to put the word out to family and friends about the purpose of this year’s census. Look for your postcard in the mail this March and remember the importance of your participation.

For more information, visit https://2020census.gov/ or call 301-763-INFO (4636) or 1-800-923-8282.