With field operations for the 2020 Census suspended nationwide until at least April 1 due to the coronavirus pandemic, federal officials are urging all Americans to respond online.
“The Census Bureau is taking this step to protect the health and safety of the American public, Census Bureau employees, and everyone going through the hiring process for temporary census taker positions,” the bureau said in a statement.
The 2020 Census — an effort to count every American in order to inform everything from the number of congressional seats granted to each state to the allocation of federal funding — kicked off less than a week ago and more than 11 million households have responded so far, according to the statement.
Every residence is scheduled to receive a request by Friday to respond to a short questionnaire online, by phone or by mail. Responses can be filed at my2020census.gov using the 12-digit census identification number provided on mailed materials or by entering a name, address and phone number in order to pull up the survey.
The short questionnaire — which does not include a citizenship question — should take about 10 minutes to complete.
“Everyone should respond to the 2020 Census as soon as they receive their invitation — and when they’re finished, they can make sure their friends, families and social networks know about the importance of responding,” according to the Census Bureau. “With the flexibility and support of the American people, we will achieve a complete and accurate count which helps guide funding decisions for things like hospitals, roads and emergency services.”
Other more detailed census surveys are now being conducted by phone rather than in-person.
The bureau is also still actively hiring in Los Angeles and elsewhere. People can apply at www.2020census.gov/jobs.
As for students whose colleges and universities have closed in the wake of the coronavirus, the bureau clarified earlier this week that they should be counted by the school, even if they have temporarily moved home.
Historically, a robust and accurate census response has relied on community outreach and door-to-door visits by census takers, who were set to begin outreach in late May. The bureau said it would continue to evaluate operations based on the guidance of federal, state and local health authorities.
The planned completion date is July 31, but the bureau earlier said that date will be adjusted if needed to achieve a complete and accurate count.