U.S Census Bureau Celebrates Role in U.S. Constitution

2020 Census Mailings Underway in Six Months

Sept. 17, 2019 – Article I, Section II of the U.S. Constitution mandates a population count of the U.S. every 10 years. Today, the U.S. Census Bureau celebrated its role in the Constitution at events in Philadelphia next to Independence Hall to educate the public about the importance of the upcoming 2020 Census. 

“The Census Bureau is well on its way to conducting its constitutional requirement of a complete and accurate 2020 Census,” Dr. Steven Dillingham, Census Bureau director, said during a press conference at the Independence Visitor Center. “The Constitution is unique because it puts the power of government in the hands of the people — and the census is a big part of that. The census is one of the few national activities the American public does together — it’s the largest peacetime mobilization in our country, and it’s a cornerstone of our democracy.”

To mark Constitution Day, the Census Bureau held a news conference at the Independence Visitor Center and hosted an interactive historical exhibit at the National Constitution Center called “Shape Your Future: A Census Experience.” Thousands of middle school and high school students visited the exhibit, which included information about the 2020 Census, an artifact from each of the 23 previous decennial censuses and interactive activities that allowed students to envision what their lives may be like during future censuses.

During the news conference, the Census Bureau announced that the 2020 Address Canvassing operation is ahead of schedule and below budget. As of Sept. 16, more than 26,500 address listers have been deployed to verify addresses for the Census Bureau’s mailing list. These listers have walked 821,152 blocks to date, which is over 40,300 more blocks than the projected schedule. In addition, the cost of the Address Canvassing operation is under budget at this point in the operation (Planned cost: $85.7 million. Actual cost: $59.0 million).

“We are pleased to see that the Address Canvassing operation is on track. This is thanks to a decade of planning and implementation of efficient technology,” said Director Dillingham. “Our address list lays the foundation for an accurate census, so that six months from now, households across the nation can receive their invitation to respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone, or by mail, and so we can follow-up with nonresponding households”

Address canvassing builds and refines the Census Bureau’s address list of households nationwide, which is necessary to ensure a complete and accurate count of everyone living in the United States. Communities across the nation will continue to see address listers canvassing their neighborhood through mid-October.

In six months, households will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census from either a postal worker or a census worker. Every household will have the option of responding online, by phone or by mail. Depending on how likely an area is to respond online, households will receive either an invitation encouraging response online or an invitation accompanied by a paper questionnaire. Households that do not respond will receive reminders — and eventually receive a paper questionnaire.

During the Constitution Day event, officials praised the efforts of Census Bureau partners and complete count committees across the nation to raise awareness of the importance of a complete and accurate count in the 2020 Census. At this time, there are over 400 national participating organizations and almost 60,000 local partners raising awareness about the 2020 Census.

“Local complete count committees across the country are hosting promotional events, displaying census information in government buildings, and are even including census messages on customer billing statements or other correspondence,” said Fernando Armstrong, Philadelphia regional director. “Complete count committees, like Philly Counts 2020, are our trusted voices in the community to let people know that responding to the census is easy, safe and important.” 

Census Bureau officials highlighted the work of the Philadelphia complete count committee. Philadelphia’s complete count committee, Philly Counts 2020, has worked with the Census Bureau’s Philadelphia regional office to reach hard to count communities. For example, Philly Counts 2020 has set up training sessions across Philadelphia to help people know how to talk to their friends and neighbors about why the census is important. These “census champions” will be the voices in their community.

“We are happy to be working closely with the U.S. Census Bureau to ensure a complete and accurate count in Philadelphia. Constitution Day is an important time for us to remember that the census is critical to our democracy,” said Stephanie Reid, Executive Director, Philly Counts 2020. “In Philadelphia, we are committed to working with community-based organizations, grasstops, and grassroots leaders through the city to ensure a complete and accurate count.”

The 2020 Census officially starts counting people in January 2020 in remote Toksook Bay, Alaska; while most households in the nation will receive invitations to respond (online, by phone or by mail) in March 2020. The Census Bureau will begin advertising in early 2020 to increase awareness of the 2020 Census.

The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census of the population be conducted once every 10 years. Census data are used to reapportion Congressional representation among the states, and to determine how billions in federal funds are distributed to states and local communities every year for services and infrastructure, including health care, jobs, schools, roads and businesses. 

For more information on the 2020 Census, visit the Census Bureau website.