Census 2020

Last updated Sep. 10, 2019 - 2:48 pm
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What is a census and why is it important?

Once a decade, America comes together to count every resident in the United States, creating national awareness of the importance of the census and its valuable statistics. The decennial census was first taken in 1790, as mandated by the Constitution. It counts our population and households, providing the basis for reapportioning congressional seats, redistricting, and distributing more than $675 billion in federal funds annually to support states, counties and communities’ vital programs — impacting housing, education, transportation, employment, health care, and public policy.

How does the Census 2020 benefit Raleigh?

Federal funds, grants, and support to states, counties, and communities are based on population totals and breakdowns by sex, age, race, and other factors. Your community benefits the most when the census counts everyone.

How can I respond to the Census 2020?

By April 2020, all households will receive an invitation in the mail to participate in the census. The process is quick and easy. You'll then have three options to respond:

  • Online (for the first time!)
  • By phone
  • By mail

If you are filling out the census for your household, you should count anyone who is living there as of April 1, 2020. This includes anyone who is living and sleeping there most of the time. Get details on how to count young children and how to handle special circumstances here.

What is the timeline for the Census 2020?

September 2018—The Census Bureau’s recruitment website went live: For each decennial census, the Census Bureau begins recruiting thousands of paid census takers to help ensure a complete and accurate count. Interested applicants can visit the website to apply for a variety of jobs beginning in 2019 and through summer 2020.

April 2019—The 2020 Census website goes live: This site will be available in multiple languages and will provide downloadable materials, answers to frequently asked questions, and more information about how individuals and organizations can help spread the word about the 2020 Census.

August 2019—New Statistics in Schools classroom activities are available online: The Statistics in Schools program provides resources for teaching and learning with real-life data.

January 2020—The first enumeration of the 2020 Census takes place in Toksook Bay, Alaska. Local census takers must get a head start while the frozen ground allows easier access to remote areas with unique accessibility challenges.

March 2020—The public can begin responding to the 2020 Census online at Replying by mail or phone will also be an option.

April 2020—Every 10 years, we observe Census Day on April 1.

June 2020 through July 2020—Census takers go door to door to count people who have not responded to the 2020 Census. Census takers are Census Bureau employees and will provide proof that they are official government personnel.

December 31, 2020—By this date, as required by law, the Census Bureau reports to the President of the United States the population count and the apportionment of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives to each state.

2021—Initial 2020 Census data are made available to the public on

What is the City of Raleigh’s role?

The City of Raleigh is a member of the Census 2020 Wake County Complete Count Committee. We will be participating in outreach and community engagement to spread the word about the upcoming Census 2020, answer questions and provide information. We work in collaboration with federal, state and local governments to ensure a complete count. The Census Bureau, which is funded by Congress, is ultimately responsible for conducting the Census 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What will the census ask me?
    • How many people are living or staying at your home on April 1, 2020.
    • Whether the home is owned or rented.
    • About the sex of each person in the household.
    • About the age of each person in the household.
    • About the race of each person in a household.
    • About where a person in the household is of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin.
    • About the relationship of each person in the household to one central person.

Your answers will be kept confidential and are combined with information from other households to produce statistics that will never identify your household or any person in your household.

Yes, all people living in the United States, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are required by law to be counted in the Census 2020. And just as you are required by law to participate, the Census Bureau is bound by law to protect your answers. Your responses are used only to produce statistics. The Census Bureau does not disclose any personal information.

  • Will you come to talk to my group or organization?

Yes! We are more than happy to speak to local groups about Census 2020. Just email us at to set up a time.

How are college students counted?

Financial support does not factor into where a student is counted for the 2020 census.

College students living away from their parents’ or guardians’ home while attending college in the U.S. are counted at their on-campus or off-campus residence where they live and sleep most of the time. This also applies to college students who live at home during breaks or vacation only. Whichever residence the student lives and sleeps at most of the time should be counted as their residence.

If the college student is living at their parents’ or guardians’ home while attending college, they are counted at their parents’ or guardians’ home.

College students who are foreign citizens living in the U.S. while attending college are counted at the on-campus or off-campus U.S. residence where they live and sleep most of the time.

College students who are U.S. citizens living outside the U.S. while attending college are not counted in the census.

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