It’s census time again

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(Posted Feb. 18, 2020)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Every 10 years since 1790, the United States has counted its population. It’s that time again.

Gwen Wolford, a partnership specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau, visited the Madison County commissioners earlier this month to explain the timeline and to ask the commissioners for their support in encouraging area residents to complete the census.

The process will start in March with the U.S. Census Bureau sending a mailing to nearly every household, inviting them to participate in the census. (The exceptions are households that do not receive mail at their home’s physical address, such as ones that use post office boxes, in which case a census taker will drop off an invitation.)

Most households will be invited to respond online. Some also will receive paper questionnaires. Every household has the options to respond online, by mail, or by phone.

The census invitations and reminders will be mailed as follows:
March 12-20–Invitations to participate in the census are mailed;
March 16-24–Reminder letters are sent;
March 26-April 3–Reminder postcards are sent to anyone who has not responded;
April 8-16–Reminder letters and paper questionnaires are sent;
April 20-27–A final reminder postcard is sent.

“Door-to-door follow-up for anyone who hasn’t responded starts in May,” Wolford said. “Our hope is to be done with the process by July, but we want the best count possible.”

The census asks for the following information: name, age, date of birth, sex, race, whether a person is of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin, phone number, whether the home is owned or rented, how many people live in the home, including children, and each person’s relationship to one central person in the household.

The census does not ask for Social Security numbers, bank or credit card numbers, money or donations, or anything related to political parties.

Answers are secure and protected by federal law. The information a person provides can only be used to produce statistics, and it cannot be used against a person by a government agency or court.

Wolford explained that the census information is used to draw boundaries for legislative districts, determine the number of seats a state gets in Congress, and inform how $675 billion of federal funding for roads, schools, hospitals and other services is distributed to states and communities each year.

The Census Bureau plans to hire 10 to 15 people to work as census takers in Madison County for in-person follow-ups. Wolford encouraged anyone interested in the jobs to apply soon in order to receive training and complete a background check in time for a May start. More information is available at 2020census.gov/jobs.

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