Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

US Census Basics: Home

Basic Information About the 2020 US Census

Business/Social Sciences Data Librarian

Profile Photo
Diana Castillo
3rd Floor, Valley Library

2020 US Census Basics

2020 US Census Basics


When does the census start? 

March 12th – 20th, households will receive an invitation by mail to respond with detailed information about the census. 

How do I respond to the census?

Response options will be available online, by phone, and by mail. 

Who completes the census? 

Every person in the United States should be counted—adults, children and babies, citizens, immigrants, and visitors. 

Why is it important to complete the census? 

  • It provides the government with statistics about how much funding state and local communities need to create jobs, provide housing and social services, and build schools, roads, and hospitals. 
  • Census population statistics determines the number of House of Representatives in Congress that each state is entitled to.   
  • It provides an indicator of the nation’s economy about homeownership to help in administering housing programs and making planning decisions. 

Is the 2020 Census Confidential? 

  • The Census Bureau will not email or text people for the 2020 Census. Beware of scams! They will not ask for social security numbers, your bank account number, ask for money, or anything on behalf of a political party.
  • Responses are safe, secure, and protected by federal law and cannot be used against you in any way. 
  • Every Census Bureau employee takes an oath to protect your personal information for life. 
  • Your answers cannot be used against you for law enforcement purposes or to determine your personal eligibility for government benefits.

What questions are asked and why? 

  • Name – to make sure everyone in the household is counted only once. 
  • Sex – to create statistics for equitable funding for planning and creating government programs.  
  • Age and Date of Birth - to understand the size and characteristics of different age groups. 
  • Whether a person is of Latino, Hispanic or Spanish origin - to create statistics about this ethnic group and to monitor compliance with antidiscrimination laws.
  • Race - to monitor compliance with antidiscrimination laws and to determine voting districts.
  • Whether a person lives or stays somewhere else – to make sure people are counted only once and not included at multiple addresses.
  • Relationship of each person in the household to one central person - to plan and fund government programs that provided money and services to families, those who raise children alone, or other households that qualify for additional assistance. 
  • A phone number is asked for clarifying census information.  This number will never be shared. 

For more information, visit the Census website.