Gearing up for the 2020 Census

By Lisa Stafford

By law, the U. S. Census, an official population count, occurs every 10 years. Most areas—about three of every four households—will receive an invitation to respond online (or by phone), while the other households will receive a paper questionnaire along with an invitation to respond online. 

Here’s why you should participate 

Census results are critically important because they give voice to citizens. This once-a-decade census data helps businesses, researchers, and communities make decisions. The data can help inform where your community needs a new fire department, more funding for school lunches or new roads. The data is also used to determine federal funding needs for medical care and representation in government. 

This data is especially important for New Orleans East, to provide accurate numbers for our population, because businesses rely on census results to help make decisions such as where to open new stores, where to expand operations and which products and services to offer. 

Additionally, the U.S. Constitution requires that electoral districts be periodically adjusted or redrawn to account for population shifts. Each decade, the census reveals where populations have risen or fallen, allowing state legislatures or independent bipartisan commissions to redraw congressional district lines. The U. S. Census Bureau provides population counts to the states for this purpose. 

Key Dates in 2020

Mid-March. Nearly every household will be invited to respond to the Census online, by phone or by mail.

April 1 – Census Day. Households should have received initial invitations to complete their questionnaires online, over the phone or through the mail. 

Mid-April. Time frame by which all households that have not yet responded to their initial invitation will receive a paper questionnaire. 

May. Census workers will begin going door to door to homes that haven’t responded to the initial invitation.

Communities of color, which can harbor mistrust of the process and what the data is used for, could find themselves underrepresented if participation is not optimized. With that in mind, you should be aware of possible scams. Remember that census workers will never ask for your Social Security number, money or donations, political information, or your bank or credit card numbers.

Visit for more information about the 2020 Census

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