By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
In case you missed it, 2020 is a census year. The census occurs every 10-years by order of the U.S. Constitution. The census is used to count the population and determine how much federal money each state receives based on population numbers.
In the past, the census is collected via census takers, but this year the Census Bureau offered households a chance to respond via mail, online or phone. If a household failed to respond, then a census taker would make a visit. However, the arrival of COVID-19 and the start of the pandemic changed things.
Census takers were originally supposed to start going door-to-door in spring, but out of safety for households and census takers, the launch date was pushed back. Earlier this week, however, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that starting July 16 and the week of July 20, census takers will begin visiting select areas to gather information.
These areas include Tacoma, Washington; Wichita, Kansas; State College, Pennsylvania; Evansville, Indiana; Hartford, Connecticut and Crystal City, Virginia.
The remaining states can expect to see census takers around their neighborhoods starting Tuesday, Aug. 11.
Census takers will only try to visit households that have thus far been unresponsive to the census. Furthermore, social distancing and other protective measures will be in place to protect both the household and the census taker.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, face masks will be provided to all census takers and census takers will be required to wear a mask when working. Census takers are also asked to follow local public health guidelines and the guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Each census taker will have a valid government ID with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date. If a Wisconsin household would like to confirm their census taker’s ID, they can call the Chicago Regional Census Center at 312-579-1500.
The majority of census takers are hired from within the community. All will speak English, and some will be bilingual. A household can request a visit from a census taker who speaks their preferred language. During this time, households still have the option of self-responding online or over the phone. Those two options offer more language support options.
Currently, the national self-response rate is 62.0%, with Wisconsin’s self-response rate at 68.9%. At the moment, Wisconsin is in second behind Minnesota in terms of response rate. Milwaukee County’s self-response rate is at 64.4%.
Households are asked to count everyone who was living in their house as of April 1, 2020. The deadline to respond to the census is Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. Visit 2020census.gov to respond today.