There’s less than a month left to respond to the U.S. 2020 Census, which closes September 30.
At almost 85 percent, Coloradans are slightly above the national response rate, which has been high, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, thanks to the census being largely electronic due to the pandemic.
Additionally, census takers have been following up with households that have not yet responded, which “is making a difference” to the response rate, states a news release from the bureau.
The data from the once-a-decade information collection effort helps determine how federal funding should be distributed to areas; what decisions businesses should make in terms of expansion, recruitment, and marketing; and how congressional and state legislative districts should be redrawn to ensure fair representation.
According to the Colorado State website, around $880 billion in federal funding is distributed based on census results.
Based on a report from the U.S. Census Bureau, 132 federal programs have used census data to determine federal funding.
These programs are diverse, ranging from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, to Child Abuse and Neglect State Grants, to State Wildlife Grants, and more.
Responding to the census isn’t just helpful for building statistics about demographics; it’s also required by law. And not responding to the questionnaire, not answering all the questions, or falsifying answers, could land you with a fine of up to $5,000. Granted, there hasn’t been a prosecution of this kind in 50 years, says the American Bar Association.
In case you feel hesitant to respond to the census out of privacy concerns–a hang-up for some–you can rest assured knowing that the Census Bureau is legally bound to not release any of your personal identifying information.
Even law enforcement agencies can’t access any of your personal information via the census. And your information can never be used against you in court or any other government agency.
In fact, anyone at the Census Bureau who releases your personal information will face prison time and/or a hefty $250,000 fine.
So, you can safely count everyone who was living at your residence on April 1, 2020–even citizens of other countries, as there is no citizenship question on the census.
Additionally, census takers are trying their hardest to count people who might otherwise slip by unnoticed. Students, babies, people experiencing homelessness, members of the military, and residents of nursing homes should all be counted in the census.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D-CO) also urges Coloradans to complete the census, out of a concern for their communities.
“The Census is about so much more than a population count,” said Polis on the state website. “It’s also about making sure our state gets the resources it needs to support our communities and plan for the future. Funding from the census can go toward new roads, new schools, new emergency services and economic opportunities.”
“I’m excited, because we want to make sure Colorado has its place that it’s earned on the map,” said Polis.