The census is important to us as citizens and US residents for a variety of reasons.
- First and foremost, how we are represented in the government is determined to some extent by population, so every person needs to be counted.
- Secondly, government assistance to municipalities such as grants and programs not visible to the typical citizen are also predicated upon population. Here are some examples of important programs based on the census.
- Third, of course is genealogy – but that’s for future generations. The census isn’t released for 72 years, and based on what I saw today, genealogists are going to be very disappointed in 2092.
The 2020 Census Form
I completed my 2020 census online today. I received a letter with a census ID code to sign on to my2020census.gov to complete the census which took about 5 minutes.
This is super convenient for me, and much less prone to errors if someone actually completes and submits their own information. No lost mail, no transcription errors, no misspelled names by enumerators. However, not everyone has technology, although most do. What about the elderly and homeless?
The census information here and here indicates that at least 5 mailings will be made followed by an in-person enumerator visit. Hopefully, unlike was done with our ancestors, they won’t just ask the neighbors.
This census is quite unique, given the current pandemic situation. I have to wonder how the census might be affected in terms of timing, completion and accuracy.
Nearly every question has a help or information button explaining the intent of the question along with example responses.
However, there are no instructions for enabling cookies. I would guess most people already have cookies enabled.
After logging in, you’re asked to confirm that you’re answering the census for your specific address. The census is by address/household, not by person.
The next question made me laugh.
“On April 1, 2020…will you be living or staying at…address?”
Seriously, April Fool’s Day – in a pandemic???
The form is divided into two sections, household questions and personal questions.
The household questions revolve around who lives in the household, and how they are related to each other, or not.
Questions are sparse indeed; name, phone and birth date.
No birthplace or parents’ names are requested, let alone the questions about where their parents were born and other information we’ve come to cherish. No income or occupation questions. Nothing other than whether the home is owned or rented, and if by someone living in the in the household
Adding a second person in the household was a bit confusing. Answer yes until you see all of the people listed in your household on the next page. It’s easy to go back and forward using the arrows. Don’t use the browser forward and back buttons.
Individual questions are provided for each person living in the residence.
I wonder why this is a complex question/answer with its own page, and the rest of the categories are not.
The next page allows you to fill in various categories labeled “race” and also has a free space area for typing things such as German, Dutch, Scottish, etc. I wonder what people who don’t know are entering, and how much ethnicity predictions provided by DNA testing companies are influencing these answers. A company that erroneously reports a high amount of Italian, for example, could cause an onslaught of people with Italian heritage on the census.
Next, relationship questions are asked.
I must admit, I was surprised to see such an inclusive list. One additional option was “not related.”
Now’s a Good Time
While you’re in lockdown, self-isolation, or are social distancing, you might be bored out of your mind, so complete your census form. Who knows, maybe this will be the most complete census in history.
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