With the 2020 Decennial Census fast approaching, it is important to take a look at the origins and purpose of the Census, and what you can do to participate. In the coming months, CDRPC will be providing information and updates on the Census to the Capital Region.

What is the Census?

Since 1790, the United States has undertaken an effort to make an exact count of every resident living within the country’s borders every 10 years. Mandated by the United States Constitution, the Census was originally created to determine the population of each state so that the correct number of delegates in the House of Representatives could be apportioned to each state. While the Census is still used for that purpose today, it also helps the Federal Government and other decision makers determine how to disperse over $600 billion of funding each year. It is incredibly important to get an accurate and correct count so that everyone can be properly represented for in government and receive necessary aid. This aid goes to school, firehouses, hospitals, and many other vital institutions that otherwise would not be able to operate. Having an accurate population count will help determine how much funding each community and institution needs.

In the modern era, the Census has become so much more than just a population count. In 1790, the Census had questions regarding the number of residents in the household and their gender. However, more modern surveys have expanded the topics to include race, Hispanic origin, occupancy status, and much more. This data is compiled and shared with the public to be used by anybody that is interested in it. This data is used by various organizations across the country, including CDRPC, to help plan for and improve communities.


How to Participate

It is vital for everyone to participate in the 2020 Census, and there will be more ways to participate than ever next year. April 1st, 2020 is “Census Day” and represents the date that participants will use when filling out the Census. Participants will respond to the housing portion of the survey by where they are or will be living on April 1st. By April 2020, every household will have received an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. From there, households will have three options to participate; by phone, by mail, or online. Giving these three options will allow people to respond to the Census regardless of access to resources. For online respondents, each household will be given a specific ID they can use to log on and fill out the Census. More details on the invitation process will be coming out in the coming months and updates will be provided by CDRPC or on the 2020 Census website.


Census Efforts in the State and Region

Being that the United States is such a large and diverse country, much of the Census work is delegated to the State and Local levels. States want an accurate count to ensure they receive proper representation on government, and local governments want to ensure that they receive proper funding. Due to the diverse nature of the country’s population and diversity within the states themselves, the State of New York created the New York State Complete Count Commission. This bipartisan commission, appointed by the Governor, has been traveling around the state holding public hearings to gather input from stakeholders and citizens on concerns that the Census process might face and how to overcome them. These hearings have taken place in every region of the state, from Long Island to the North Country, Western New York and everywhere in between. The commission will utilize the accounts and data they receive at these meetings and create a special working groups, establish partnerships, and create a comprehensive plan of action for the state to undertake to ensure that there is an accurate count and that no one is left out. Presentations and testimonies delivered at these hearings can be found online here.


For more information on the 2020 Census, be sure to check out CDRPC’s other Census resources on our website and be on the lookout for future Census announcements and messaging.