Starting on July 30, the U.S. Census Bureau (CB) will begin following up with households in Colorado that have yet to submit information for the 2020 Census. The process is scheduled to finish no later than October 31. 

The 2020 Census attempts to count everyone who currently lives in the U.S., creating statistics that inform how over $600 billion in federal funds will be allocated annually for the next ten years, as well as guide private businesses and investments, according to the CB.

The statistics are also used to determine the number of seats each state holds in Congress and to draw congressional districts.

However, there has been a decreasing trend in response rates to the Census, said Wilbur Ross, secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, in a memorandum.

Why the 2020 Census Is Important

Since 1790, the U.S. has undertaken an effort to make an exact count of every resident living within the country’s borders. The U.S. Constitution mandates a census of the population every 10 years. 

However, “in the modern era, the Census has become much more than just a population count,” the Capital District Regional Planning Commission said. 

It has expanded to include demographic details such as race, age, population, sex, housing, occupancy status, and more, all of which is shared with the general public, said the Commission. 

According to the Commission and the CB, the data is widely used by various organizations across the country, including non-profits, businesses, researchers, and governments to help plan for and improve social services as well as private investments.

It affects more than 100 programs serving mostly low-income and marginalized groups, including Medicaid, Head Start, block grants for community mental health services, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), according to The New York Times

It also guides business decisions such as where to open new stores and offices, where to expand operations, where to recruit employees, and which products and services to offer, according to the CB.

“The Census data… can provide a better understanding of their communities and how to best serve an ever-changing country,” the Commission said. “[It] is one of the most vital tools used by the public and private sectors.”

Nevertheless, in a 2018 survey conducted by the CB, 40 percent of respondents felt it did not matter if they were counted in the 2020 Census, and only 45 percent of respondents were aware that the Census data influences the allocation of public funding.

Men between 18 and 34 years of age are the least likely to respond to the Census. 

“This highlights a major barrier to a complete Census count, as people who may not fully understand its importance and what it’s used for will be less likely to fill out the Census,” the commission said. 

 The Follow-Up Process

Households can still respond now by completing and mailing back the paper questionnaire they received, by responding online, or by phone at 844-330-2020. 

Service is available in 13 different languages

For the follow-up process, all census takers who will be visiting households can speak English, and many are bilingual. If a census taker does not speak the household’s language, the household may request a return visit from a census taker who does. 

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CB will provide and require census takers to wear a mask while working.

Census takers must complete a virtual COVID-19 training on social distancing protocols and other health and safety guidance before visiting Colorado neighborhoods.

They are hired from local communities and can be identified by a valid government ID badge

“We encourage Coloradans to cooperate with census takers and ensure that everyone is counted,” the CB said.