Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

CSDE’s Easy Guide and FAQ for Census 2020

CSDE encourages everyone to complete the census.  Here we provide you with the latest news about the census and answers to a few questions.  Please do visit the US Census home page here.  if you have questions that you would like answered about the census, please don’t hesitate to ask and email csde@uw.edu

Latest

Latest Updates from the Census

April 13, 2020 – The Census Bureau has asked Congress for extra time to produce the apportionment counts.
https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2020/statement-covid-19-2020.html
April 8, 2020 – The Census Bureau was granted authority from the Office of Management and Budget to add COVID-19 questions to its business surveys. The posting of this authorization is here. Questions to measure the impact of the pandemic will be added to five surveys: the Manufacturers’ Shipments, Inventories & Orders (M3) Survey; the Building Permits Survey; the Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey; the Monthly Retail Surveys; and the Quarterly Services Survey. The Census Bureau will be asking businesses whether they have temporarily closed any locations for at least one day, whether they experienced delays in their supply chains or product shipments, and whether those delays impacted revenue. In addition, the Building Permits Survey will ask permit offices whether they were unable to issue permits due to COVID-19-related disruptions, whether such disruptions created a permit backlog, and whether backlogs were cleared. In its justification to OMB, the Census Bureau said: “The added questions are designed to allow us to measure the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic upon businesses.
March 19, 2020 – The Census Bureau has announced further adjustments to its planned 2020 decennial census operations in response to the coronavirus epidemic (see previous coverage). On March 18, Census Director Steven Dillingham announced a two-week suspension of 2020 field operations. In addition, the Bureau’s two major facilities in Jeffersonville, IN, the National Processing Center and Paper Data Capture Center East, have dramatically reduced on-site staff to the minimum necessary to continue operations. These measures were further extended by an additional two weeks, through April 15, and could be extended even longer in accordance with public health guidelines. In addition, the Census Bureau has temporarily suspended in-person interviews for its ongoing surveys, including the American Community Survey. Where possible, field workers will call participants and seek to collect information by phone. This marks the first major interruption for some of these surveys in over 50 years of data collection.

Completing the Census Form

The Census can be completed online, in-person, or via mail.  However, the Census Bureau is strongly encouraging all American households to respond to the 2020 Census online-both for convenience and to minimize in-person contact during the COVID-19 pandemic. The questionnaire can be filled out here-even households who have not received or lost their Census ID code can respond by clicking “if you do not have a Census ID, click here.”

Census Information and Guidance

Visit this link  to find ways to help the effort or participate yourself.

FAQ

What is the progress on census data collection?

The Census Bureau has also published a response rate map, updated daily, that allows users to see the self-response rate in their state, city, or census tract.

Can the Census be completed online?

Yes, there is a new online mode for census data collection. The online guide for the census form offers information in a number of languages and offers you a preview of the census questions you will be asked.  It can help to familiarize yourself with the questions before you complete the form.

I am a college student where do I record my residence?

For college students, completing the decennial census form has always created confusion.  College students are supposed to be counted at their “normal” place of residence on April 1. For many students, this is the location of their college or university. Students should still be counted as residents at their “normal” address during the academic year even though they have left campus. Students who normally live in on-campus or college-owned housing are counted as part of the Census Bureau’s group quarters enumeration.  Group quarter counts are usually provided by the institution and not the individual. Students who live at home normally should be included in their household’s response form.
The Census Bureau has produced a short video and fact sheet to clarify how college students are to be counted.  For more information, a prominent demographer, Dudley Poston, authored an article on this topic in a recent issue of The Conversation.

Is there a citizenship question on the census?

Another challenge for the census was last year’s very public debate about the inclusion of a citizenship question on the census form.  Everyone should know that the U.S. courts ruled against the inclusion of a citizenship question on the census form. It is NOT on the census form.  Furthermore, your census information is kept confidential and your responses are kept anonymous.  The Census Bureau is bound by law to protect your answers and your answers may not be used against you. For more information on this please visit this link.

Why is April 1st Census Day?

You might be wondering why is April 1st Census Day, when this year’s census data collection began March 12, 2020 and continues until August 14, 2020. There is a good reason. When you complete the census (via mail, online or phone), you will be asked about your normal place of residence on April 1st of this year. Hence the label!

Why does the census ask different questions about racial and ethnic self identification?

This is a good question and puzzles many people.

First, there is a simple response.  There are different questions about race and ethnicity because the US Government’s Office of Management and Budget requires that they be asked.

Second, the census has observed over the decades that to reflect the diversity of the country’s residents, they need to provide a diversity of identification categories to best represent the US population.

Third, these additions to possible types of racial and ethnic self identification were scientifically tested and shown to improve response rates on these question items

Here are the specifics about the race and ethnic identity questions.

The census first asks about hispanic/latino ethnic identity. This is the largest ethnic identity in the U.S. and is an important social identification.  Here is a link to the census explanation – https://2020census.gov/en/about-questions/hispanic-origin.html

The census asks the question this way to comply with the federal government’s standards—provided by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget—for collecting data on race and Hispanic origin. First, the question is based on how a respondent identifies. Second, the standards require the census to collect and report data for a minimum of two ethnicities: “Hispanic or Latino” and “Not Hispanic or Latino.” The standards define “Hispanic or Latino” as a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.

The census then asks about which race you identify with.  The census offers this explanation – https://2020census.gov/en/about-questions/2020-census-questions-race.html

The census ask the question this way to comply with the federal government’s standards—provided by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget—for collecting data on race and Hispanic origin.

First, the question is based on how a respondent identifies. Second, the race categories generally reflect social definitions in the U.S. and are not an attempt to define race biologically, anthropologically, or genetically. The census recognizes that the race categories include racial and national origins and sociocultural groups. The census has made significant improvements to the question this decade to give everyone an opportunity to respond with their detailed racial identities. Providing this detail is an opportunity—not a requirement.  Based on research and positive feedback from communities over the past 10 years, people who identify as White or Black now have space to enter their detailed identities, such as the examples listed on the questionnaire.  In turn, this provides the census with the ability to produce detailed statistics for a variety of population groups in the United States, such as German, Lebanese, Mexican, Jamaican, Nigerian, Chinese, Navajo, Samoan, etc.

The information below, listed in the same order as the questionnaire, is provided to help respondents:

  • White: The category “White” includes all individuals who identify with one or more nationalities or ethnic groups originating in Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa. Examples of these These groups include, but are not limited to, German, Irish, English, Italian, Lebanese, Egyptian, Polish, French, Iranian, Slavic, Cajun, and Chaldean.
  • Black or African American: The category “Black or African American” includes all individuals who identify with one or more nationalities or ethnic groups originating in any of the black racial groups of Africa. Examples of these groups include, but are not limited to, African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, and Somali. The category also includes groups such as Ghanaian, South African, Barbadian, Kenyan, Liberian, and Bahamian.
  • American Indian or Alaska Native: The category “American Indian or Alaska Native” includes all individuals who identify with any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintain tribal affiliation or community attachment. It includes people who identify as “American Indian” or “Alaska Native” and includes groups such as Navajo Nation, Blackfeet Tribe, Mayan, Aztec, Native Village of Barrow Inupiat Traditional Government, and Nome Eskimo Community.
  • Asian: The category “Asian” includes all individuals who identify with one or more nationalities or ethnic groups originating in the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent. Examples of these groups include, but are not limited to, Chinese, Filipino, Asian Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese. The category also includes groups such as Pakistani, Cambodian, Hmong, Thai, Bengali, Mien, etc.
  • There are individual Asian checkboxes for people who identify as one or more of the following: Chinese, Filipino, Asian Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Other Asian (for example, Pakistani, Cambodian, and Hmong)
  • Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: The category “Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander” includes all individuals who identify with one or more nationalities or ethnic groups originating in Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands. Examples of these groups include, but are not limited to, Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Chamorro, Tongan, Fijian, and Marshallese. The category also includes groups such as Palauan, Tahitian, Chuukese, Pohnpeian, Saipanese, Yapese, etc.
  • There are individual Pacific Islander checkboxes for people who identify as one or more of the following: Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Chamorro, Other Pacific Islander (for example, Tongan, Fijian, and Mashallese)
  • Some Other Race: If respondents do not identify with any of the provided race categories, respondents may enter their detailed identity in the Some Other Race write-in area.