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Census 2020: What will we be asked? (and why?)

information provided by the US Census Bureau

LANSING, Ill. (February 8, 2020) – In mid-March Lansing households will receive an invitation in the mail. Every household will be invited to complete the 2020 Census online, by mail, or by phone.

The census consists of these questions, and each question is asked for a specific purpose:

  1. How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment, or mobile home on April 1, 2020?
    Instructions: Count everyone living and sleeping in your home most of the time, including young children, roommates, and friends and family members who are living with you, even temporarily.
    Purpose: This helps the Bureau count the entire U.S. population; specifying a date and location helps prevent double counting.

  2. Were there any additional people staying here on April 1, 2020, that you did not include in Question 1?
    Instructions: Children—related or unrelated—such as newborn babies, grandchildren, or foster children should be counted. Adult children, cousins, or in-laws who are living at the address on April 1 should be counted. Even non-relatives, such as roommates or live-in babysitters, and people staying temporarily should be counted if they are at the address on April 1.
    Purpose: The goal of the 2020 Census is to count everyone just once and in the right place. The Census Bureau wants to ensure that everyone at every address is counted—including newborns, roommates, and those who may be staying temporarily.
  3. Is this house, apartment, or mobile home—
    • Owned by you or someone in this household with a mortgage or loan? Include home equity loans.
    • Owned by you or someone in this household free and clear (without a mortgage or loan)?
    • Rented?
    • Occupied without payment of rent?

    Instructions: Mark ONE box.
    Purpose: This question helps produce statistics about homeownership and renting. The rates of homeownership serve as one indicator of the nation’s economy. They also help with administering housing programs, planning, and decision-making.

  4. What is your telephone number?
    Purpose: The Census Bureau asks for your phone number in case there are any questions about your census form. The Bureau will contact census participants only for official census business, if needed.
  5. What is Person 1’s name?
    Instructions: If someone at the address pays the rent or owns the residence, start by listing him or her as Person 1. If the owner or the person who pays the rent does not live at the address, start by listing any adult living there as Person 1. There will be opportunities to list the names of additional members of the household.
    Purpose: The Census Bureau asks a series of questions about each member of each household. This allows them to establish one central figure as a starting point.
  6. What is Person 1’s sex?
    Instructions: Mark ONE box, male or female.
    Purpose: This allows the Bureau to create statistics about males and females, which can be used in planning and funding government programs. This data can also be used to enforce laws, regulations, and policies against discrimination.
  7. What is Person 1’s age and what is Person 1’s date of birth?
    Instructions: Note Person 1’s age as of April 1, 2020. For babies less than 1 year old, do not write the age in months. Write 0 as the age.
    Purpose: The U.S. Census Bureau creates statistics to better understand the size and characteristics of different age groups. Agencies use this data to plan and fund government programs that support specific age groups, including children and older adults. Schools depend on census data for planning purposes as well.
  8. Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin?
    Instructions: Participants should answer both Question 8 about Hispanic origin and Question 9 about race. For this census, Hispanic origins are not races. Hispanic origin can be viewed as the heritage, nationality, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person’s parents or ancestors before arriving in the United States. People who identify as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be any race.
    Purpose: These responses help create statistics about this ethnic group. This helps federal agencies monitor compliance with anti-discrimination provisions, such as those in the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act.
  9. What is Person 1’s race?
    Instructions: Mark one or more boxes AND print origins—White; Black or African American; American Indian or Alaska Native; Chinese; Filipino; Asian Indian; Vietnamese; Korean; Japanese; other Asian; Native Hawaiian; Samoan; Chamorro; other Pacific Islander; some other race.
    Purpose: This allows us to create statistics about race and to analyze other statistics within racial groups. This data helps federal agencies monitor compliance with anti-discrimination provisions, such as those in the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act.
  10. Print name of Person 2.
    Purpose: The 2020 Census asks information about each member of each household. This question identifies the next person to refer to in the ensuing questions. This process repeats for each person in your home.
  11. Does this person usually live or stay somewhere else?
    • No
    • Yes, for college
    • Yes, for a military assignment
    • Yes, for a job or business
    • Yes, in a nursing home
    • Yes, with a parent or other relative
    • Yes, at a seasonal or second residence
    • Yes, in a jail or prison
    • Yes, for another reason

    Instructions: Mark all that apply:
    Purpose: This question helps ensure that the Census Bureau is counting everyone once, only once, and in the right place.

  12. How is this person related to Person 1?
    Instructions: Mark ONE box—opposite-sex husband/wife/spouse; opposite-sex unmarried partner; same-sex husband/wife/spouse; same-sex unmarried partner; biological son or daughter; adopted son or daughter; stepson or stepdaughter; brother or sister; father or mother; grandchild; parent-in-law; son-in-law or daughter-in-law; other relative; roommate or housemate; foster child; other nonrelative.
    Purpose: This allows the Census Bureau to develop data about families, households, and other groups. Relationship data is used in planning and funding government programs that support families, including people raising children alone.

The Census will never ask certain questions

During the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau will never ask participants for:

  • Their Social Security number
  • Money or donations
  • Anything on behalf of a political party
  • Bank or credit card account numbers

If someone claiming to be from the Census Bureau contacts you via email or phone and asks for one of these things, it is a scam.

The Lansing Journal
The Lansing Journalhttps://thelansingjournal.com
The Lansing Journal publishes news releases from state, county, and local officials who provide information that impacts local community life. The particular contributor of each post is indicated in the byline.


  1. Question 6, 7, 8, and 9 are irrelevant. Today, people can be any sex or race that they “identify with”, or some other social invention

    • That’s exactly why the questions are so important. Knowing how people identify themselves helps communities plan resources and programs.

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