A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common censuses include agriculture, business, and traffic censuses.
Massachusetts is unique in that it is the only state to conduct its own census every year. The state census, formally known as the annual resident listing, asks questions mandated by state law including name, home address, date of birth and “nationality, if not a citizen of the United States…” Residents must respond or face penalties such as fines or prison. All answers are published.
United States 2020 Census:
The U.S. Constitution requires that each decade we take a count—or a census—of America’s population. The 2020 Census goal is to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place. The census provides vital information for you and your community.
• It determines how many representatives each state gets in Congress.
• Communities rely on census statistics to plan for a variety of resident needs including new roads, schools, and emergency services.
• Businesses use census data to help provide more local jobs and places to shop.
Each year, the federal government distributes hundreds of billions of dollars to states and communities based on U.S. Census Bureau data.
In 2020, we will introduce 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, or by mail. We will use data that the public has already provided to cut down on household visits. And, we are building a more accurate address list and automating our field operations—all while keeping your information confidential and safe.
Questions and Answers About the 2020 Census:
Count • The census is a count of everyone living in the United States. This mandatory count is required by the United States Constitution.
Everyone • The population of the United States must be counted. This includes people of all ages, races, ethnic groups, citizens and non-citizens. The Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the United States Code. Federal law protects the personal information you provide during the census.
Every 10 years • The federal census is conducted every 10 years. The next Federal Census will occur in 2020. You will receive Census correspondence prior to Census Day April 1, 2020. The Federal Census is different than your annual street listing, which is sent every year by the city or town in which you reside.
Everywhere in the U.S. • The Federal Census counts everyone living in the United States, including all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories
Online, phone or mail • The U.S. Census Bureau will send a letter inviting you to go online and complete your census form if you can. Don’t worry if you don’t have internet access — you can respond by phone or paper, too. It takes approximately 10 minutes to complete the questionnaire. The online questionnaire will be available in 12 non-English languages (Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese and Japanese). Help will also be available by phone in some of these languages.
If the U.S. Census Bureau does not receive a response from your household, they will mail a second form. Households that still do not respond will be called or visited by a Census worker. (Census workers can be identified by a census badge.)
It’s important • The data collected during the Federal Census determines federal funding for your community, your community’s representation in Congress and planning decisions made in your
It’s required by law • The information you provide is combined with responses provided by your neighbors and other households across the country, to provide summary statistical data that are used by various local, state and federal agencies.
IS CENSUS DATA CONFIDENTIAL?
ABSOLUTELY! • Your answers are protected by law (Title l3 of the U.S. Code, Section 9) and are strictly confidential. It is illegal for the Census Bureau, or its employees, to share your personal information with any other government agency, local law enforcement, IRS, Health and Human Services (HHS), FBI, ICE, etc. Not even the President of the United States can access your individual responses.
HOW DOES THE CENSUS AFFECT ME?
Census affects funding in your community • Census data directly affects how more than $675 billion per year in federal and state funding is allocated to communities for neighborhood
improvements, public health, education, transportation and much more. Spending just a few minutes to fill out your census form will help ensure your community gets its fair share of federal and
Census affects your voice in Congress • The number of representatives in Congress is determined by the number of residents in Massachusetts in relation to the number of residents in the United States. Currently we have 9 U.S. Representatives – in order to preserve our representation, we must ensure that everyone is counted so Massachusetts maintains its strong voice in Congress.
Census affects your representation in state and local government • Federal Census data is used to define legislative districts, school district assignment areas and other important areas of government.
Census provides important information used for local decision-making • The census is a snapshot that helps define who we are as a nation. Data about changes in your community are crucial to many planning decisions, such as where to provide services for the elderly, where to build new roads and schools, or where to locate job training centers.