US Census 2020 – It’s That Time!!!

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.

census 2020 welcome

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.

census 2020 login

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.

Household Questions

The household questions revolve around who lives in the household, and how they are related to each other, or not.

Census 2020 questions

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.

Person Questions

Individual questions are provided for each person living in the residence.

census 2020 hispanic

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.

census 2020 relationship

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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13 thoughts on “US Census 2020 – It’s That Time!!!

  1. The official 2020 census day is April 1. I don’t know who will be living in my house until then. My wife or I may be dead or someone may have moved in with us by then. I guess this is just another example of how our federal government works

  2. Good job supporting the Census! On a Facebook thread, one of my friends was complaining the Census was too personal asking for an address. (The Census hasn’t asked for an address for a number of years, since 1950, I think) I laughed….first of all, your Census code would be tied to the address on the envelope and 2nd, I think the government knows your address if you pay taxes. But the Census doesn’t share specifics with any other government agencies anyway. Addresses in old census records are sure helpful for genealogy purposes. Can’t wait for the 1950 to come out!

  3. One of my complaints is that how the Census Bureau chose to deal with the “Hispanic question”. When it comes to “race”, you’re allowed to check as many boxes as you want, but there is no meaningful provision for those who have both Hispanic and non-Hispanic ancestry — like me.

    Both of my maternal grandmother’s grandfathers immigrated from the Balearic island of Menorca; one in the 1830s and the other in the 1840s. So my grandmother was half Spanish, since both of her parents were also half Spanish. My mother was one-quarter Spanish, and I’m one-eighth.

    On the previous (2010) Census, I simply checked both boxes. The Census Bureau did not say that was allowed — but neither did they say it wasn’t — and it’s possible to check as many “races” as you feel apply.

    This year, I chose to complete the census online. I found that it was not possible to check both “Not Hispanic” and “Hispanic”. Even though square check boxes usually mean that you can check more than one, it didn’t in this case — except possibly that you could check more than one Hispanic “subgroup”.

    So I simply didn’t check either box, but also put “Catalan” as my subcategory under “Hispanic”. This may mean the Census ignores this question on my census. But what they generally do when more than one box is checked, they simply add “one” to both category.

  4. “Seriously, April Fool’s Day – in a pandemic???” Think about what you just wrote! Why didn’t you warn them that was not a good date to use?

    Well, what would you like to have had the question be when the census questions were being decided? I got my questionnaire long before the virus, too late to strike that question.

    Should they have asked who was living in the house on March 1, 2020?

    • Probably any day except April Fool’s Day. 😂 But thus year, people might actually need to answer ON the day to get it right.

  5. I have just realized another reason we might not find ancestors on the census – if they lived abroad when the census was taken. My daughter, son-in-law and their two US born daughters are currently living in Europe. This should have been the first census that my granddaughters would appear in, but from what I googled they won’t be counted and neither will their parents. I assume if a person is US military, the government can find them to give them a census form, but for a couple million Americans living abroad who do not have a US government related job, they’ll be missed in the census. I saw a website that says that anywhere from 2 million to 6 million Americans live abroad and won’t be counted. And no one is even sure how many there are – note the 4 million person range. 72 years from now my granddaughters’ descendants (as well as descendants of those 2-6 million overseas Americans) may be looking everywhere in vain to find them on the 2020 census.

  6. I was surprised by the ethnicity question. As if one simple answer would be sufficient, given that many, if not most, of us have multiple-country ancestry. Not able to choose among the several countries going back generations, I wrote in “American”. I was born in America, as were my parents.

  7. Apparently we need a law forbidding bureaucrats from demanding that citizens pretend to be prophets. So I refuse to fill out the census until the date that it is about.

  8. I put “human” for “race”. We have to stop mistaking ethnicity for what should otherwise be a genetic difference. And of course as soon as the darn thing was filled out a few days later we got a new person who is staying with us long term.

  9. interestingly the 2020 census didn’t separate between white, asian/chinese, American Indian, Black, the others

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