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Category: Government & Politics / Topics: COVID-19 Current Events, News Demographics Government News Statistics

2020 Census Update

Reported by Stu Johnson

Posted: August 29, 2020

One month to be counted!…



2020census.gov

The U.S. Census is part of an international practice of counting (enumerating) national populations. If you reside outside the United States, there is a good chance your own country will be conducting its own census around this time.

Last week, in the article "Will I be Counted?" I referenced Andrew Whitby's book, "The Sum of the People." Written in 2019, Whitby rehearses the controversy over administration desire to include a citizenship question and other factors leading him to suggest, "Even without the citizenship question, the 2020 U.S. census will face unprecedented challenges in achieving an accurate count. . . Only 60.5 percent of households are currently expected to self-respond in 2020, down from the 64 percent achieved in 2010."

That was before COVID-19 hit in early 2020, forcing the Census Bureau to alter its operational plan. When the deadline for field work was moved from October 31 to September 30, there were charges of attempts to increase the undercount, which would disproportionately impact minorities and rural areas.

However, before the COVID-related delays, the original deadline for completion of field work was July 31. The October 31 date was part of an attempt to have Congress delay the first report—enumeration of members in the U.S. House of Representatives—until April 30, 2021. The original December 31, 2020 deadline prevailed, due largely to the complex web of different laws and standards used by the states to implement the second phase, redistricting—redrawing the map of congressional districts in each state. That left the original statutory deadlines for Census reports in place: December 31, 2020 for the raw enumeration numbers, and April 1 for more detailed demographic information for redistricting.

So, given the hurdles thrown in its path by the pandemic, on top of low expectations set by some, how are things going? Following is a compilation of reports this past week from the Census Bureau (most include links and guidance in responding to the census if you have not done so already).

Over 80 Percent of Households Have Been Counted in the 2020 Census

The U.S. Census Bureau began to release daily 2020 Census housing unit completion rates including the 2020 Census self-response rate and Nonresponse Followup completion rate. 80.1% of housing units have been accounted for in the 2020 Census as of today, with 15.4% counted by census takers and other field data collection operations, and 64.7% of housing units responding online, by phone, or by mail.

Census Takers in Your Neighborhood

Census takers will wear masks and follow local public health guidelines when they visit your home. All census takers complete a virtual COVID-19 training on social distancing and other health and safety protocols before beginning their work in neighborhoods. 

2020 Census User Experience Survey

The U.S. Census Bureau announced the new 2020 Census User Experience Survey, a survey measuring how satisfied respondents were with their online experience with the 2020 Census questionnaire. The data collection for the online response satisfaction survey began August 17 and will end in October. The 2020 Census marks the first time households have been invited to respond online using a computer, smartphone or tablet.

Promoting 2020 Census Participation in a Pandemic

For years, the U.S. Census Bureau and local and national organizations across the country have been planning for the 2020 Census and organizing events, media and advertising outreach, and activities to spread the word about the importance of responding to the once-a-decade count of everyone who lives in the United States.

Then came COVID-19.

Those working on the 2020 Census had to think creatively to continue to encourage people to respond, shifting to more virtual and digital engagement.

Some partners are supplementing email outreach with text messages and phone banks, and many have added resources, toolkits and graphics to their websites and social media channels since they can no longer engage in person with their constituencies.



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Stu Johnson is principal of Stuart Johnson & Associates, a communications consultancy in Wheaton, Illinois. He is publisher and editor of SeniorLifestyle, writes the InfoMatters blog on his own website and contributes articles for SeniorLifestyle.

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Posted: August 29, 2020

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