The goal of the 2020 Census is to count everyone living in the United States. This total count of our nation’s population takes place just once a decade and determines the amount of federal dollars that come back to our community, our representation in Congress, and informs a whole host of decision-making at the state and local level.
The Census Bureau has designed the 2020 Census to make responding easy and to take less than 10 minutes. Kathleen O’Connell, U.S. Census Bureau Partnership Specialist, Central Virginia, identified how the census is used to determine local funding for hospitals and schools, including nutrition and school lunch programs, roads and transportation services, emergency and social services.
O’Connell described self-response options provided to all households. For the first time in our national history, most census responses are online. The census form is available at www.my2020census.gov. Alternatively, the census may be completed by telephone with personal voice calls to 1-844-330-2020. Lastly, a paper questionnaire will be sent to all non-responder households.
There are 10 questions that are the same in all three options. Census responses are promised by the Census Bureau to be safe, secure and confidential with forms and phone support available in multiple languages. Online, phone and mailed self-response period will continue throughout the data collection process. The end of the census period was extended to October 31, 2020.
Census takers are persons hired by the U.S. Census Bureau to provide a personal visit to interview households that have not responded within the census period. Due to COVID-19 there has been a delay until August 11 in sending census takers to the community. The nonresponse follow-up period was also extended to October 31.
The household response rate can be seen online with real-time information using responses totaled day by day. As of May 27, the Virginia self-response is over 65%, with a national self-response of 60%. A closer look of counties shows Albemarle at 68%, Augusta at 69% and Nelson at only 45%. Charlottesville, counted separately from Albemarle County, is at 63.5%. Further review by the Census Bureau is required to extend the count for people served by providers at soup kitchens, shelters, and regularly scheduled food vans. Census takers count people under bridges, in parks, in all-night businesses and people staying at campgrounds, RV parks, marinas, and hotels if they do not usually live elsewhere.