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The 2020 Census: Why It Matters

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There are about $675 billion reasons that you should care about the 2020 Census. The census influences how your tax dollars are spent over the next ten years. For every person who isn’t counted it costs your community tens of thousands of dollars.

Census dollars are used for about a hundred programs that help make your community great. It funds things like Medicare Part B, Highway Planning, Federal Pell Grants, School lunch programs, Foster Care, Nutrition Programs, Transit Grants, Disaster Relief, Wildlife restoration, Community Facilities, Veterans Programs, elderly housing, Clean Water programs and so much more.

The Census isn’t just about distributing funds. It is about political representation too. Census data determines congressional seats and Electoral College votes. When you’re counted, you have a stronger political voice. If you don’t get counted your state could lose seats.

April 1, 2020 is Census Day — the due date for Americans to take part in the decennial national headcount. Beginning in mid-March 2020, you can respond to the census online, by phone, or by mail. You will have a chance to respond until August 14. Choose the option that is most comfortable for you. Large-print guides to the questionnaire are available upon request. Learn more about how you'll be invited to participate: How the 2020 Census Will Invite Everyone to Respond

For those who are concerned about privacy, by law, your information must be kept confidential and safe. Your responses can only be used to produce statistics. The Census Bureau cannot share your responses with the FBI, the CIA, or any other agency. In fact Census Bureau Staff take a lifetime oath to protect your information. They can be fined or face prison time if they don’t. Learn more about confidentiality here: The 2020 Census and Confidentiality

Here is what to expect in the coming months.

Census timeline

April 2020

April 1 is Census Day, when all U.S. households will have received at least one invitation to fill out their form. As you complete your form you should use the address that is your primary residence as of April 1. This month census takers will also start surveying senior centers and colleges, to conduct the counts on those larger residences.

May 2020

For those who haven't completed their household census form yet, this month is when workers will start going door-to-door throughout most of the country to assist stragglers. Completing your census form is important for your community and the nation, but make sure to beware of potential scammers. If someone comes to your door, start by asking for a valid Census Bureau ID card.

December 2020

The Census Bureau will provide Congress and the president with the results of the 2020 count.

March 2021

By the end of the month, the Census Bureau will send each state its redistricting counts. These figures will be used to determine new legislative districts and also where federal funding is spent.

What to watch out for

  • You get an unsolicited email purporting to be from the Census Bureau. For household surveys and the decennial Census, the agency almost always makes contact by mail.
  • A supposed census agent asks you for money or financial data, such as the number of and amount in your bank account.
  • A supposed census taker threatens you with arrest. Taking part in the Census is required by law, and you can be fined for not doing so, but you can’t be imprisoned.

Learn more about census fraud and how to protect yourself: Stay Safe While You Take the 2020 Census

Take this opportunity to define your decade. Make sure to fill out and return your 2020 Census card.

It has never been easier to respond on your own, whether online, over the phone, or by mail—all without having to meet a census taker.

Want to learn more? Visit aarp.org/Census.

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