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2020 U.S. Census: A Social Work Issue


What is the Census?


Every 10 years the United States counts its total population. The data collected provides the basis for reapportioning congressional seats, redistricting, and how $675 billion of federal funds will be distributed. The results of the census have the potential to greatly impact communities.  Participation in the census is considered a civic duty, and is a social work issue.


Important Census Dates All North Carolinians Should Know


March 12-20: Households receive the 2020 Census by mail
April 1: Census Day is observed Nationwide.
April 30: The deadline to self-report by mail or online, so don’t wait! Complete your census
by this date. Self-reporting reduces the need for an in-person enumerator.
May-July: Census takers, or people who help households fill out their census, begin visiting those households that have not yet completed their census.
For additional information, visit the Census Bureau’s calendar.

Ensuring a Fair and Accurate Census During COVID-19

See U.S. Census Bureau's statement on Coronavirus and the 2020 Census.

Why is the Census important?


Click here for some talking points from the NC Counts Coalition!


United States House of Representatives

One of the primary purposes of the census is to reapportion congressional seats in the US House of Representatives. States are given a certain number of seats in the House based on its population.  North Carolina currently has 13 seats, and is projected to gain an additional congressional seat from the census results. Participating in the census will lead to increased representation for North Carolina!


Congressional Redistricting

Another purpose of the census is redrawing voting districts within the states. After each decennial census, the voting districts for the US House of Representatives, North Carolina Senate, and North Carolina House of Representatives are redrawn to account for population changes. Participating in the census will be critical in determining what the NC voting districts will look like moving forward. To find out where your current district is and find more information on redistricting in North Carolina, visit our voter information page.


Distribution of Federal Funds

The data collected from the census is also used to determine how $675 billion in federal funds will be distributed annually. The funds will go to states, counties, and communities, and will fund vital programs affecting employment, housing, education, public transportation and roads, health care, and public policy. Participation in the census affects the amount of funding that North Carolina will receive.

Who does the Census count?


The U.S.Census counts everyone residing in the United States, regardless of citizenship status or age.


When and how is the Census happening?


For the first time ever, in 2020 the Census can be completed online! Between March 12, 2020 - March 20, 2020, households should expect to receive official Census Bureau mail containing information on how to respond the the census by phone, by mail, or online.  Households will be able to choose the method by which they respond to the census. April 1, 2020 is Census Day nationwide and households are expected to have responded to the census by then.


Beginning in April the census will begin its process of counting people living in group quarters, which includes college/ university housing, residential treatment centers, group homes, military barracks, correctional facilities, and several others. To find out more about this process click here.


From March 30, 2020 - April 1, 2020 the Census will count people that are experiencing homelessness. To find out more about this process click here.


From May 2020-July 2020 census takers will begin to visit homes that haven't responded to the census.


Where are people being counted?


You will be counted at the residence you live in most of the time as of April 1, 2020. For more information about were you will be counted, click here.


Take the 2020 U.S. Census NOW!


Citizenship and Privacy Concerns


The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that there would be NO citizenship status question on the 2020 census. Undocumented immigrants are expected and encouraged to respond to the census. There is still public concern regarding if the census data will be kept private and protected. Title 13 of the US Code ensures the privacy of census responses. It is against the law for Census Bureau employees to disclose any census data. Breaking this law could result in up to 5 years in prison, a fine up to $250,000, or both. No law enforcement agency; including Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Central Intelligence Agency, can access personal information collected in the census at any time.


The "72-Year Rule" also states that US government cannot release any personally identifiable information gathered from the census until 72 years after it was collected.


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