City Manager William Johnson

Emporia City Manager William Johnson said the 2020 Census will provide an opportunity for jobs locally to those seeking to work for the Census Bureau counting area residents.

Partnership Specialist with the 2020 Census Shirley Gilliam is already busy working on the details of counting residents for the 2020 Census and she is covering all bases to make sure that happens. She is hoping to create a Complete Count Committee.

“What we’re doing is trying to get the community involved to make sure everyone is counted,” Gilliam said in a presentation to City Council earlier this month. “Over $675 billion will be distributed among the states once the census is completed, so it’s important that it is done and that everyone is counted. It has been said that between $1,800 and $2,000 per person is missed.”

Gilliam said a Complete Count Committee would increase the response rate for residents returning their questionnaires through a focused neighbor-to-neighbor program. She said it would also bring a cross section of the community together, with a 2020 Census focus to raise awareness about the census.

The U.S. Census is a Constitutional mandate that requires a count of the population. The number of members each state has in the House of Representatives is determined by the U.S. Census, as well as the number of electoral votes each state has for the U.S. president. It has occurred every 10 years since 1790. New York and Ohio lost two seats in the House of Representatives following the 2010 census.

Though many find the census questionnaire as invasive on their privacy or to time-consuming, it is federally required to answer the questions truthfully. Providing false information could lead to a $500 fine. Refusing to answer a survey could result in a $5,000 fine.

Gilliam said it is important that citizens know their responses to the census are protected by law.

The Census Bureau is required to keep private citizens’ information private and is not allowed to release information that can identify a specific person, their business, organization or institution.

The work toward the 2020 Census has been underway since the fall, but the in the field canvassing will begin in August. Technology will make the 2020 Census statistical gathering significantly different from the 2010 Census. The internet will be used as a tool to count residents, though the old fashion paper questionnaire will still be in place. Telephone surveys will also play a part in the 2020 census count.

April 1, 2020 is Census Day. Respondents will be able to use the internet, telephone or paper questionnaire to complete and submit their census information. The U.S. Census Bureau will deliver its population count to the executive branch in December of 2020. The redistricting data will be sent to the states in March of 2021.