Census Stats and Myths

Fact-checking the decennial count

March 2, 2020

Special Report: 2020 Census Illustration: Kristen Solecki
Special Report: 2020 Census Illustration: Kristen Solecki

April 1
Census Day, or the date by which every home will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census.

Year the first decennial census was taken, as mandated by the US Constitution.

$1.5 trillion
Estimated amount in federal funds to support state, county, and community programs that is determined by US Census data.

Number of languages that online and phone responses can be completed in, including Arabic, Haitian Creole, Russian, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.

Number of area census offices the US Census Bureau opened in 2019 to support a complete count.

Percentage of US households that mailed back the 2010 Census questionnaire.

1 million
Approximate number of children 5 years old and younger who were undercounted by the 2010 Census.

Percentage of Detroit’s population that lives in hard-to-count neighborhoods, the largest proportion of any major US city.

Myth: “My information will be shared or used against me.”

Fact: By law, the US Census Bureau cannot share personal data with any other government or law enforcement agency.

Myth: “I can’t fill out the census because I’m not a citizen.”

Fact: The census counts everyone living in the US.

Myth: “I can’t complete the census because I don’t have internet access.”

Fact: The 2020 US Census will be available online, by mail, and by phone.

Myth: “I have to answer every single question on the census.”

Fact: Incomplete census questionnaires are considered legal.


Illustration: Kristen Solecki

Fact Versus Fear

Libraries help assuage census anxieties

Spanish-language census marketing materials used by Waukegan (Ill.) Public Library. Photo: Waukegan (Ill.) Public Library

Reaching the Hard to Count

Libraries contract census specialists with the goal of improving self-response rates