It could make an impact where you live, from helping build a new school to ease overcrowding to constructing a new road to ease overcrowded commutes to providing more services to families.
It also determines how many seats your state gets in Congress, and state and local officials use the information to draw boundaries for congressional, state legislative and school districts.
Plus, it helps businesses, researchers and policymakers all make decisions.
In 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau will be collecting data from the nearly 330 million people living in the United States and five U.S. territories. According to 2020census.gov, as mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the country has counted its population every 10 years since 1790.
Once the results are collected, it will help determine how more than $675 billion in federal funding is distributed to states and communities every year for hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads and more.
Don’t worry: The Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency, is bound by law to protect your answers, and it does not disclose personal information. The answers are only used to produce statistics.
By April 1 next year, households will receive an invitation to participate in the census. Responses may be given by phone, by mail or online, which will be a new option.
If you don’t respond, the Census Bureau will follow up in person to collect the information.
Census representatives already have reached out to Jackson County governmental entities in hopes they will help spread the word about the census and possibly create a Complete Count Committee.
The volunteer committee members play a key role in raising awareness, answering questions and encouraging their community members to participate, according to 2020census.gov. They can include representatives of businesses, schools, community-based organizations and faith-based groups.
Commissioners President Matt Reedy, Auditor Kathy Hohenstreiter and Building Commissioner Conner Barnette are on the county’s Complete Count Committee.
Crothersville Town Council President Danieta Foster said a representative also inquired about the town forming a committee. During a council meeting earlier this month, she said she didn’t think it was feasible for the town to have a board just for that.
Foster, however, said the town would advertise information about the census on Facebook, in local newspapers and at the town hall so residents would be informed.
“Crothersville had a really good reply rate last census. I believe (the representative) said 80 percent,” Foster said.
The Brownstown Town Council also recently discussed the census after receiving a letter from an area bureau representative.
“They just said it was to our advantage to try to do anything we can to encourage people to respond,” Clerk-Treasurer David Willey told the council.
Communities rely on census statistics to plan for a variety of resident needs, including new roads, schools and emergency services.
The person filling out the census for their household should count anyone who is living there as of April 1, 2020. This includes anyone who is living and sleeping there most of the time.
It is important to remember to count any children living in the household, according to 2020census.gov. This includes grandchildren, nieces and nephews and children of friends; children who split their time between households; and newborn babies, even those who are still in the hospital on April 1, 2020.
The census data not only tells the population of the country, states and communities, it also helps collect statistics about the makeup of that population, including ages, races and how many people own their home.
The 2010 census, for example, showed that Nevada was the fastest-growing state between 2000 and 2010, the overall population of the United States grew 9.7 percent to 308,745,538 and there were 20 million children living in the United States who were younger than 5, according to the census website.
Businesses benefit from the census, too. They rely on data to figure out where to open new stores, where to expand operations and which products and services to sell.
It also benefits redistricting. 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.
State legislatures or independent bipartisan commissions redraw district lines, and the Census Bureau provides population counts to the states so they can redistrict based on the population shifts, according to 2020census.gov.
The Census Bureau will begin counting the population in remote Alaska in January 2020 and continue working its way across the country contacting households to respond.
People may see census takers in their neighborhood, and that’s a normal part of the 2020 census preparation and data collection process, according to the website. They will be verifying addresses, collecting responses to the census or another survey, dropping off census materials and conducting quality checks on the census.
The census takers also will visit homes to collect responses from those who hadn’t responded online, by phone or by mail. The census takers must present an identification badge that includes a photo of them, a Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date, according to 2020census.gov. They also may be carrying a Census Bureau phone or laptop and a bag with a Census Bureau logo.
For 60 years, the National Processing Center in Jeffersonville has been the primary location for Census Bureau mail processing, data capture, imaging, scanning and more.