Important for Everyone To Be Counted in U.S. Census This Spring

Date: February 12, 2020
The U.S. Census – which takes place once every 10 years – will be completed this spring. It is essential for every resident of Ocean City to be counted as census data is used to determine important funding and services. The census count is mandated by the Constitution and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency. Each home will receive an invitation in March to respond to a short questionnaire—online, by phone, or by mail. The following should help answer questions about what to expect.
Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other resources based on census data. The census provides critical data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and many others use to provide daily services, products, and support for you and your community. The results of the census also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, and they are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts. The 2020 Census will mark the 24th time that the country has counted its population since 1790. Participating in the census is required by law.
  • March 12 - 20: Households will begin receiving official Census Bureau mail with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone, or by mail. You may respond immediately.
  • April 1: Census Day is observed nationwide. By this date, every home will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. Once the invitation arrives, you should respond for your home in one of three ways: online, by phone, or by mail. When you respond to the census, you'll tell the Census Bureau where you live as of April 1, 2020.
  • April: Census takers will begin visiting college students who live on campus, people living in senior centers, and others who live among large groups of people. Census takers also begin conducting quality check interviews to help ensure an accurate count.
  • May - July: Census takers will begin visiting homes that have not responded to the 2020 Census to help make sure everyone is counted.
  • December: The Census Bureau will deliver apportionment counts to the President and Congress as required by law.
By April 1, 2020, every home will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. You will have three options for responding:
  • Online
  • By phone
  • By mail
In mid-March, households will begin receiving official Census Bureau mail with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census. A brief questionnaire will ask questions about who lives in your household.
If you are filling out the census for your home, you should count everyone who is living there as of April 1, 2020. This includes any friends or family members who are living and sleeping there most of the time. If someone is staying in your home on April 1, and has no usual home elsewhere, you should count them in your response to the 2020 Census. Please also be sure to count roommates, young children, newborns, and anyone who is renting a space in your home. These people are often missed in the census. This means they can miss out on resources for themselves and their communities over the next 10 years. It is important to remember to count any children who are living with you. This includes:
  • All children who live in your home, including foster children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and the children of friends (even if they are living with you temporarily).
  • Children who split their time between homes, if they are living with you on April 1, 2020.
  • Newborn babies, even those who are born on April 1, 2020, or who are still in the hospital on this date.
THE CONCEPT OF USUAL RESIDENCE: The Census Act of 1790 established the concept of “usual residence” as the main principle in determining where people should be counted, and this concept has been followed in all subsequent censuses. “Usual residence” has been defined as the place where a person lives and sleeps most of the time. This place is not necessarily the same as the person's voting residence or legal residence.
PEOPLE WHO LIVE OR STAY IN MORE THAN ONE PLACE: For the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau will retain the proposed residence situation guidance for people who live or stay in more than one place. People who travel seasonally between residences (e.g., snowbirds or shore homeowners) will be counted at the residence where they live and sleep most of the time. If they cannot determine a place where they live most of the time, they will be counted where they are staying on Census Day.
FOREIGN CITIZENS IN THE UNITED STATES: Foreign citizens are considered to be “living” in the United States if, at the time of the census, they are living and sleeping most of the time at a residence in the United States.
HEALTH CARE FACILITIES: The Census will count facilities serving long-term residents or patients who live and sleep at the facility most of the time.
COLLEGE AND BOARDING SCHOOL STUDENTS: The Census Bureau has historically counted boarding school students at their parental home, and will continue doing so because of the students' age and dependency on their parents, and the likelihood that they will return to their parents' residence when they are not attending their boarding school.
MILITARY PERSONNEL: The Census will make a distinction between personnel who are deployed overseas and those who are stationed or assigned overseas. Deployments are typically short in duration, and the deployed personnel will be returning to their usual residence where they are stationed or assigned in the United States after their temporary deployment ends. Personnel stationed or assigned overseas generally remain overseas for longer periods of time and often do not return to the previous stateside location from which they left. Therefore, counting deployed personnel at their usual residence in the United States follows the standard interpretation of the residence criteria to count people at their usual residence if they are temporarily away for work purposes.
All responses to Census Bureau surveys and censuses are confidential and protected under Title 13 of the U.S. Code. Under this law, the Census Bureau is required to keep respondent information confidential. The Census Bureau will never share a respondent’s personal information with immigration enforcement agencies, like ICE; law enforcement agencies, like the FBI or police; or allow it to be used to determine their eligibility for government benefits. The results from any census or survey are reported in statistical format only. Individual records from the decennial censuses are, by law (Title 44, U.S. Code), confidential for 72 years. In addition, under Title 13, U.S. Code, all Census Bureau employees swear a lifetime oath to protect respondent data. It is a felony for any Census Bureau employee to disclose any confidential census information during or after employment, and the penalty for wrongful disclosure is up to 5 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $250,000.