Chapter one: The importance of the Census
The U.S. Census comes around once every 10 years.
The goal is to get an accurate count of how many people live in a community.
By law, everyone living in the United States is required to fill out the 2020 census. That information is used to determine how many seats a state gets in Congress, plus that state's share of more than a trillion dollars in federal funding.
Filling out the census ensures communities get money for things like roads, schools, housing, unemployment, and emergency services.
But getting everyone counted is easier said than done.
Census data collected as of Wednesday, Aug 26. shows North Carolina ranks 37th among states at a 60.4 % response rate, four points below the national average of 64.6%.
Even though the deadline has been extended to October 31, it only takes a few minutes to fill out the census now. You can complete it by going to my2020census.gov or by calling 844-330-2020.
Chapter two: The extended deadline
The U.S. Census Bureau is cutting its schedule for data collection for the 2020 census a month short as legislation that would have extended the national head count's deadlines stalls in the U.S. Senate. The move is worrying researchers, politicians and others who say the change will miss hard-to-count communities, including minorities and immigrants, and produce less trustworthy data.
The Census Bureau said in August that the door-knocking and ability for households to respond either online, by phone or by mail to the questionnaire will stop at the end of October so that it can meet an end-of-the-year deadline to turn in numbers used for redrawing congressional districts.
Census experts and civil rights activists worry the sped-up deadlines could affect the thoroughness of the count, which determines how $1.5 trillion in federal spending is distributed and how many congressional districts each state gets.
Facing delays caused by the pandemic, the Census Bureau had earlier this year pushed back wrapping up field operations for the once-a-decade head count from the end of July to the end of October.
The bureau also asked Congress in April to extend the deadline for turning in apportionment data used for drawing congressional districts from Dec. 31, 2020, to April 30, 2021. Top Census Bureau officials have said it would be impossible to meet the end-of-the-year deadline, and that the bureau expected bipartisan support for the request.
Chapter three: Census worker at your door?
If someone shows up at your door claiming to be a census worker, here is how you can spot real volunteers from potential fraudsters.
- A valid ID badge with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date.
- They may also carry Census Bureau bags and other equipment
- Census takers will ask you questions that include the name, age, race, and sex of the people living in your household.
- A Census taker will never ask questions about social security numbers, banking information, or citizenship status.
Census workers are going door-to-door weekdays and weekends from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m.
If you haven’t responded to the census, census takers will come to your door up to six times to ensure everyone is counted and will leave a phone number for you to call if you are not home at the time.
You don’t have to wait for someone to come to your door. You can fill out the Census online.
Chapter four: Verifying real Census letters
The Federal Trade Commission has a number of ways you can detect and stop scammers. If you haven’t responded to the census by May, census takers will come to your door up to six times to ensure everyone is counted and will leave a phone number for you to call if you are not home at the time.
The Census Bureau will not send you unsolicited emails that request you participate in the 2020 Census.
Even so, there are some concerned that mail they receive from the Census Bureau is actually a scam.
If a letter urges you to go to a website to respond, you should check the URL carefully. If the URL ends with a “.gov” before the first slash, it’s likely a link to the actual census website. The census website--or any other U.S. government website--will never end with “.com”, “.net”, “.org” or anything similar. It should always end with “.gov”.