Census 2020 101

Census 2020 On The Table

Want to get involved but don't know how? Don't know what the census even is or why it's important? We're here to give you the fast facts (and the longer ones, too!). New Memphis is passionate about spreading knowledge of resources to help make our city happier and healthier. A huge piece of this puzzle in 2020 is the upcoming census! We held a civic discussion in January (pictured here) to discuss the importance of this particular civic duty, and a lot of interesting things came from the conversation. Namely, a lot of people just don't know what it is or why it's important. So, we're here to fill in the blanks and spread the word!

First, the fast facts.

WHAT: Census 2020. When the founding fathers started the census, they started with wanting to document everyone on U.S. soil, and it's still the same. The constitution mandates that everyone be counted every 10 years, and the first census was held in 1790!

WHO? Everyone! (Documented, undocumented, homeless, children, senior citizens, etc.!)

WHY? It's about fair representation, meaning the results of the census are used to reapportion the House of Representatives, determining how many seats each state gets. It's also how our state, and city, get to lay claim to the billions of federal dollars allocated for support for our communities.

No but really...what's in it for me? Census data is used to make tons of both big and small decisions. Residents use the census to support community initiatives and quality-of-life (think libraries, parks, better roadways). Businesses use census data to decide where to build factories, offices, stores, and which jobs to create (think creating facilities to address needs for elderly or children). Local governments use census data for public safety and emergency preparedness (think designing safety strategies and employing more firefighters for larger areas). Real estate developers use it to build new homes and revitalize neighborhoods (think establishing fair market rent and planning for hospitals and hotels).

HOW? YOU! This is where you come in. Not only do you need to contribute your own household information, but you can spread the word to your friends, family, and community members to ensure an accurate count, which benefits everyone!

But what if they use my information against me? What about privacy? This is a common misconception, but it's totally private! It's against the law for the Census Bureau to publicly release your responses in any way that could identify you or your household. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share your answers with ANY other government agency. And that pesky "citizenship" question? It is not on the census, despite any confusion stating otherwise. They cannot and will not share your information for the next 72 years. Meaning when you go on sites like ancestry.com and they connect you based on that information, it’s only information that was on the census from 1940, nothing more recent than that!

WHEN? The kickoff for Census 2020 is March 12. Individuals should respond between March 12 and April 27. Census employees and volunteers will begin knocking on doors from May through July to collect information if you haven’t self-responded.

WHERE? Online, by phone, or mail. If you don't self-respond by April 27, census workers will start knocking on doors to collect the appropriate information from your household. 

This brings us to the next part: getting involved.

You can apply online to become a census taker. 2020 census jobs provide great pay, flexible hours, weekly pay, and paid training! You can also go to 901counts.com to volunteer. Part time job opportunities are available – see below for additional information:

    • $22-26 per hour paid weekly
    • clerical and field positions
    • 2-16 week timeframe
    • Requires background check, transportation, 18+ in age
    • Mileage reimbursement
    • Offer online training
    • Hire people to work where they live
    • Great for retirees

Learn more about the importance of an accurate count and what other organizations, like Latino Memphis, are doing to spread the word here