It's time for the 2020 Census! The Kansas City Public Library is proud to be a part of the Kansas City Regional Complete Count Committee’s education and outreach effort.
If you have questions, please send us an email and we’ll get the answers posted here.
Or check out the 2020 Census website for more information.
The Constitution mandates a population count once every ten years. The Census started in 1790 and this year’s Census will shape how political power and federal tax dollars are shared in the U.S over the next 10 years. The number of congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets are determined by census numbers. They also guide how an estimated $880 billion a year in federal funding is distributed for schools, roads and other public services in local communities. The demographic data are used by businesses to determine, for example, where to build new supermarkets and by emergency responders to locate injured people after natural disasters.
Want to check out past Census data? Check out our Online Resources!
The Census Bureau includes every person living in the U.S. — regardless of citizenship or immigration status. International visitors on vacation or work trips to the U.S. during the census are not included. Residents are counted at the address where they usually live and sleep.
You can respond to the Census in one of three ways:
- On the phone: For the first time, 1-800 numbers will be available to give the response over the phone.
- In writing: A paper form will be mailed to each household.
- Online: For the first time in history, there will be the option to fill out the Census online.
- Mid-March 2020: An invitation to respond to the Census online will be sent to every residence sometime between 12-20 March 2020.
- End of March 2020: A reminder letter and a reminder postcard will both be sent out at the end of March to the beginning of April.
- Beginning of April 2020: If you still haven't responded, a reminder letter AND a paper questionnaire will be sent between April 8-16.
- End of April 2020: A final reminder is sent between April 20-27 before a Census employee comes out to visit in person.
The Census questions are very generic demographic questions about you and the other people who live with you. These questions include name, age, origin of birth, race, gender, the relationship of the people living in the same place (spouse, son/daughter, renter, etc.), and whether the home is owned or rented. There will be other operational questions as well, such as whether someone usually lives or stays somewhere else, how many people were living at the residence on April 1, 2020, telephone number, and if there was anyone else living in the residence on April 1 that do not currently live there (if the census is taken after April 1, 2020).
For more information about the planned questions and why the questions are being asked, check out the Questions Planned for the 2020 Census and American Community Survey.
You can skip questions, submit an incomplete census form, and still be included in the head count. But you can be fined for refusing to answer a census question or intentionally giving a false answer, although the penalty has been enforced rarely in the past. Returning a partially filled-out questionnaire may result in a follow-up phone call or visit from a census worker.
The Census collects data that will help states, counties, and communities determine:
- Representation: The number of seats a state has in the U.S. House of Representatives, and determines the districts for state government.
- Funding: How to distribute approximately $675 billion in federal funding to local communities yearly.
- Planning: The creation and upkeep of local services such as roads, schools, hospitals, senior centers, emergency services, and libraries.
- Businesses: The creation of factories, business headquarters, and stores, as well as the ability to recruit employees and conduct market research.
If there is not a full count of all residents in 2020 (like in the 2010 Census), it could result in the loss of $48 million in the Kansas City region for 16 federal programs in Missouri:
- Cass County - $2,130,501
- Clay County - $5,243,883
- Jackson County - $20,555,355
- Lafayette County - $657,105
- Platte County - $2,154,564
- Ray County - $451,644
It is against the law to share specific answers with anyone and the Census Bureau is using a new privacy protection system, in addition to the safeguards it already used, to further protect the privacy of respondents.
As of July 2019, you may have received the 2019 Census Test – a trial run for the 2020 Census (which won’t start until early January 2020). The 2019 Census Test will randomly assign households to two panels and ask them to respond to the 2020 Census questions.
You could also have been randomly selected for a Census survey. It is important to verify that the survey is legitimate, because there have been reports of scams.
If you receive mail about the Census:
- Check that the return address is Jeffersonville, Indiana
- If you continue to question the authenticity of the letter or form call the Regional Office for your state to verify the household survey. For business surveys please visit the Census Bureau Business Help Site or contact the National Processing Center.
If someone calls your household to complete a survey:
- Call the National Processing Center to verify the caller is a Census Bureau employee
- Please review the Census Bureau’s alphabetical list of All Surveys
If someone visits your residence to complete a survey:
- Check first for a valid U.S. Census Bureau ID badge
- If you are still unsure then call the Regional Office for your state to verify you are in a legitimate survey and the visitor is a Census Bureau employee.
If you get an email and think it is bogus:
- Do not reply, do not click on any links, and do not open any attachments.
- Forward the email or website URL to the Census Bureau at email@example.com.
- Delete the message. The Census Bureau will investigate and notify you of the findings.
Chicago Regional Office
Mon-Fri, 8a.m. - 5p.m., Central Daylight Time.
Denver Regional Office
Mon-Fri, 8a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Mountain Standard Time.