It’s officially 2020 which means the return of something pretty awesome. No, it’s not the Jazz Age, I’m talking about the United States Census.
Once every decade the government undertakes the massive task of counting every single person living in the US. It’s a big deal. Not just because it takes a lot of work to do, but also because the information gained from the Census helps the country plan for the future. The results of the Census help distribute $675 Billion, yes billion with a capital B, federal funds to states and communities. This breaks down to about $1800 per person.
The money distribution from the Census is Important!
The answers from the Census affect every day things like road planning and maintenance. School districts are determined by Census answers. Delivery routes of food and goods to local markets are created using the maps that come out of the Census. These are just little everyday ways the Census impacts our lives, and there are even bigger implications.
Planning for hospitals and other health services is determined by the Census. How close you are to emergency care depends on the answers given during the Census this year. Worried about natural disasters? Disaster plans are created using the data from the Census.
Finally, one of the most important things for many Americans that is determined by the Census information is the distribution of seats in the House of Representatives. That’s right, the future governance of this country can be affected by the Census.
Now that you are either bored of hearing about how important the Census is or so excited you can’t wait to fill it out, let’s talk about what to expect.
In March every home will receive a mailer. This mailer will contain a unique ID for the home. Starting April 1st Americans can respond to the Census questionnaire by phone, by mail, or online. Every American can pick the way they would prefer to answer the Census. Yes, there will still be people going door-to-door to collect answers, but you can answer the Census using whichever method you prefer.
What does the Census Ask?
The 2020 Census asks a few basic questions. The answers given are legally protected for 72 years. Answers given to the census cannot, by law, be shared with immigration enforcement agencies, law enforcement agencies, or be used to determine the eligibility of government benefits. So breathe easy knowing your information is perfectly safe.
The first question is the number of people living at the address. There is a follow-up question asking if anyone is staying in the home at the time of the April 1st. The Census wants people to be counted at their more permanent place of residence. If a relative or friend is in the middle of a life transition and currently staying with you it might be worth it to speak to a Census employee on the phone about where they should be counted.
The following information will be asked about each person living at the residence. Their name, sex, age, date of birth, race, and their relationship to the person responding. All of this information is important to plan out the stuff we talked about at the top of the page. Understanding relationships can help draw maps for family services and schools.
If this isn’t explanation enough, or if you want to ask questions in person, have no fear! The library has an upcoming event for just that purpose.
The 2020 Census: What You Need to Know
Mon, Feb 10, 7 p.m. at the Lee Road branch: Audrey Wynne, partnership specialist for the U.S. Census Bureau, will discuss why getting a complete Census count is critical for future funding to Cuyahoga County, and will also answer questions about the Census.
Finally, you can go to Heights Libraries’ Census 2020 page for more information, including applying to be a part of the Census.