The U.S. Census Bureau is the federal government’s largest statistical agency. The Census Bureau is dedicated to providing current facts and figures about America’s people, places, and economy. Federal law protects the confidentiality of all individual responses the Census Bureau collects. The U.S. Constitution requires that each decade we take a count -- or a census -- of America’s population.
What is the census?
The census is a count of every person who lives in the United States and its territories. It happens every 10 years. You will be asked to count everyone who lives in your home as of April 1.
Is my information safe?
Your responses to the 2020 Census are safe, secure, and protected by federal law. Your answers can only be used to produce statistics. They cannot be used against you by any government agency or court in any way -- not by the FBI, not by the CIA, not by the DHS, and not by ICE. Confidentiality violation is a federal crime that may include a prison sentence, a fine or both. Online responses are secured by multiple layers of encryption and isolated from online access as soon as you hit submit.
When can I respond to the census?
Census Day is April 1, 2020. However, in March every household in America will receive a notice to complete the census online, by phone, or by mail and responses will be accepted as soon as you receive your invitation to respond. In May, the U.S. Census Bureau will begin following up in person with households that have yet to respond.
In 2020, the Census Bureau is implementing new technology to make it easier than ever to respond to the census. For the first time, you will be able to respond online, by phone, as well as by mail. The Census will be printed in English and Spanish. Telephone assistance and the online Census questionnaire will be available in 13 languages. Guides and glossaries will be available in 59 non-English languages and Braille.
Here’s a timeline:
March 12-20 An invitation to respond online to the 2020 Census. Most areas of the country are likely to respond online, so most households will receive a letter asking them to go online to complete the census questionnaire. (Areas that are less likely to respond online will receive a paper questionnaire along with their package. Their package will also include information about how to respond online or by phone.)
March 16-24 A reminder letter if you have not yet responded
March 26-April 3 A reminder postcard if you have not responded
April 8-16 A reminder letter and paper questionnaire for those who have not responded
April 20-27 A final reminder postcard before the Census Bureau follows up in person
(You can help the Census Bureau save postage or other costs by responding right away!)
What will I be asked?
You will be asked a few simple questions, like age, sex and the number of people who live in your home, including children -- even newborn infants. (In the Additional Resources below is a sample questionnaire.)
What won’t be asked?
The census will never ask for Social Security numbers, bank or credit card numbers, money or donations, or anything related to political parties.
Why is my response so important?
Your responses inform where over $675 billion is distributed each year to community nationwide for clinics, schools, roads and more. Every person counted is worth an estimated $1,675 in federal dollars to Oklahoma over the next 10 years, or $16,750 per person living in Oklahoma!
Census data gives community leaders vital information to make decisions about building community centers, opening businesses, and planning for the future. Did you know businesses use census data to determine where to open places to shop and what types of services and products to offer?
Responding also fulfills your civic duty because it is mandated by the U.S. Constitution. The United States has counted its population every 10 years since 1790!
Your responses are used to redraw legislative districts and determine the number of seats Oklahoma has in the U.S. House of Representatives.
What is the history of the census?
Thomas Jefferson directed the first decennial census in 1790. As required by the U.S. Constitution, a census has been taken every 10 years thereafter. In 1840, the Census Act authorized the establishment of a centralized Census Office. In 1902, the Census Office became a permanent organization within the Department of the Interior. A year later, it was renamed the Bureau of the Census and moved to the new Department of Commerce and Labor.