JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Don’t forget to check your mail this week.
On Thursday, every household across the country will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 U.S. Census, a process that takes place every 10 years and helps decide how tax dollars are spent.
Data collected through the Census not only determines how much representation each state has at the federal level, it also helps inform decisions on where things like roads and schools are built.
To put things simply, this 10-question questionnaire might take 10 minutes to complete online, but it will have a long-term influence on each of our lives.
Yet even though the Census will have a direct impact on where an estimated $1.5 trillion will be spent over the next decade, millions of people go unreported.
Alyssa Green, 18, was the youngest person in attendance Wednesday at the city of Jacksonville’s announcement to raise public awareness about the Census.
“The disconnect, I think, goes back to the lack of knowledge,” Green said. “You don’t know.”
As a 2020 Census coordinator, it’s Dr. Standralyn Terry’s responsibility to make sure everyone is counted – especially groups that have gone unreported in years past.
“Hard-to-count populations include birth to (age) 5, young adults, elderly, highly mobile populations,” Terry said.
Some background: in 2010, one million children under the age of 5 went unreported. That amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars lost that could have funded early childhood education.
So, below you’ll see a sample copy of the letter you’ll receive in the mail:
It will contain a web address and a unique Census ID. The survey also wants to know how many people live in your home. It doesn’t matter if it’s multiple families, only that every person is counted.
The big push this year is for everyone to fill out this survey online (see sample survey here). In fact, you will not get a hard copy until the Census Bureau tries to contact you multiple times to fill it out online.
If you don’t have access to a computer at home, check with your local library or government as they will be opening facilities for people to use for this purpose.