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2020 Census at a Glance
The census is much more than just a head count. It provides a picture of our nation that helps determine where to build new schools, hospitals, and businesses; how federal funding is distributed; and how congressional seats are apportioned. It also helps us see how our communities have changed over time. That’s why an accurate count is so important.
Understanding the Census
Once every decade, the federal government conducts a census of the entire population to count everyone in the United States and record basic information about them. Our nation’s founders believed this data was so important that they mandated the decennial census in the Constitution.
Easy and Convenient
In 2020, for the first time ever, the U.S. Census Bureau will accept responses online and by phone. You can still complete the census by mail.
Confidential and Secure
Strict federal law protects your census responses. It is against the law for any Census Bureau employee to disclose or publish any census information that identifies an individual or business. Census Bureau employees take a lifelong pledge of confidentiality to handle data responsibly and keep respondents’ information private. The penalty for wrongful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment for up to 5 years, or both. No law enforcement agency (not the DHS, ICE, FBI, or CIA) can access or use your personal information at any time. Data collected can only be used for statistical purposes that help inform important decisions, including how much federal funding your community receives.
The Census Bureau will never ask for your Social Security number, bank or credit card account numbers, money or donations, or anything on behalf of a political party.
The Census Bureau has a robust cybersecurity program that incorporates industry best practices and federal security standards for encrypting data.
To make sure you and your community are counted, learn more about the 2020 Census by visiting 2020census.gov.
Key Milestones for the 2020 Census
September 2018 – The Census Bureau’s recruitment Web site went live: 2020census.gov/jobs. For each decennial census, the Census Bureau begins recruiting thousands of paid census takers to help ensure a complete and accurate count. Interested applicants can visit the Web site to apply for a variety of jobs beginning in 2019 and through the summer of 2020.
April 2019 – The 2020 Census Web site goes live: 2020census.gov. This site will be available in multiple languages and will provide downloadable materials, answers to frequently asked questions, and more information about how individuals and organizations can help spread the word about the 2020 Census.
August 2019 – New Statistics in Schools classroom activities are available online: census.gov/schools. The Statistics in Schools program provides resources for teaching and learning with real-lift data.
January 2020 – The first enumeration of the 2020 Census takes place in Toksook Bay, Alaska. Local census takers must get a head start while the frozen ground allows easier access to remote areas with unique accessibility challenges.
March 2020 – The Public can begin responding to the 2020 Census online at 2020census.gov. Replying by mail or phone will also be an option.
April 2020 – Every 10 years, we observe Census Day on April 1.
June 2020 through July 2020 – Census takers go door to door to count people who have not responded to the 2020 Census. Census takers are Census Bureau employees and will provide proof that they are official government personnel.
December 31, 2020 – By this date, as required by law, the Census Bureau reports to the President of the United States the population count and the apportionment of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives to each state.
2021 – Initial 2020 Census data are made available to the public on census.gov.