In the coming months, census takers across the country will take to the streets to count every single person who lives in the United States, as the 2020 census gets under way.
Since 1790, the U.S. Constitution has mandated a decennial census of the population, and this year will make the 24th time it has been done, according to Patricia Ramos, a media specialist at the U.S. Census Bureau.
Though it may seem a bit mundane, the data gathered by the census affects everyone.
“The count is what determines our representation in Washington, (as well as) something a lot of people can relate to: funding of federal services and programs,” Ramos said. “This includes school lunches, Medicaid, Medicare, Pell Grants, highways, transportation, emergency services, you name it. It really touches every demographic, every sector of the population, every day.”
Many Californians take advantage of a number of these services, which makes it that much more important, added Tracey Branch, recruitment manager at the Santa Clarita U.S. Census office.
That being said, this is the first year people will be able to respond online, which will make it that much more convenient, Ramos added.
“It’s one census questionnaire per household and everybody that lives under that household needs to be included,” she said, adding that it takes no more than 10 minutes to respond.
Forms are expected to be mailed out in the coming weeks, and people can then start responding either online, by mail or by phone.
By Census Day on April 1, every home will have received an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. Responding to the questionnaire by the end of April can allow people to avoid a knock on their door.
“The most important thing to note is that the responses that we get are personal information, but what we put out on behalf of the U.S. Census Bureau is statistics — we just put out numbers, no personally identifiable information,” Ramos added.
Though it may seem like a daunting task to count everyone in the country, Branch said she considers it fun.
“I have to say that the Santa Clarita territory (has been) amazing to work with,” Branch added. “Not only have we achieved our goal, but exceed it in the number of individuals needed.”
Still, the Santa Clarita office is hiring enumerators, or census takers, who will go out into the community and follow up on those who have not responded to the census, as well as man mobile popups in areas that are identified to have low response rates in order to provide questionnaire assistance, according to Branch.
“After census day, we will send out popup teams, so that the community knows we’re there to help fill out the form, and we’ll keep going until everyone is counted,” Branch said.
Census positions provide the perfect opportunity to earn some extra income while helping your own community, Branch added.
These positions pay approximately $25 per hour, are flexible and include working opportunities on weekends and in the evenings.
“People who have a second language capability are also highly coveted,” Ramos added, as they want people to be comfortable responding in their native languages.
Those interested are instructed to apply online, and a clerk will then contact you to explain everything in detail, Branch said.
“If you’re interested, apply online and ask all questions of recruiters when they reach out,” Branch added. “There’s still plenty of time for people to join, as we have lot of ground to cover.”
The census count is expected to last through the end of the year.
“We all have to work together to get the most accurate count as possible,” Ramos said. “A lot is at stake (and) these numbers matter in every which way.”
For more information, visit 2020census.gov, which is available in 59 different languages in addition to English.