With the 2020 United States Census right around the corner, now is the perfect time to brush up on your census knowledge. Does the United States government really count the entire population? What do they do with all of those numbers? And when can you participate in the 2020 census? Don’t worry! We’ve got all the answers for you here.

We recently partnered with the City of Philadelphia to help spread awareness of the census. We’ve come a long way since the first census in 1790 — where 650 U.S. marshals on horseback rode across the country, knocking on doors and scrawling down names on parchment. The 2020 census will cost over $15 billion, and you can answer by phone, internet, mail, or in-person. But why waste your precious time filling out a questionnaire? Does it really matter?

Everyone Matters on the Census

A common misconception is that the U.S. Census only counts citizens. But in reality, the census counts both citizens and non-citizens, and they’re given equal weight in apportionment counts. In fact, the census is available in 12 languages (both online and over the phone) to help anyone and everyone in the United States voice their presence. While the upfront cost of the census may seem enormous (+$15 billion is nothing to sneeze at!), the census is only taken each decade, and it’s responsible for the appropriation of over $900 billion annually. In other words, getting the numbers right saves the government money in the long run. Plus, it helps people (like you and me) in local communities get the support they deserve.

Census Data is Used By Everyone

Who uses census data? Everyone! Not only is census data made readily available online (see here), but that data is the single most accurate reference point for US demographics during the decade. When businesses plan to build new locations, they use census data to understand the population of the area. When community organizations rally behind causes, they use census data to help them build childcare facilities, social service programs, and community action projects.

That’s not all! Census data is used by local and state governments to help initiate public safety strategies and discover key areas where new hospitals, roads, bridges, police, and schools are needed. At the federal level, the census dictates how federal funds are allocated to areas like education, construction, emergency response, healthcare, and housing.

Finally, census data is used to determine how many seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives — which has a trickle-down effect that impacts every single one of us. In other words, our entire nation runs on census fuel. And every person who answers the census helps the car get a little further down the road.

Undercounts on the Census Can Cause Havoc at the Local Level

While April 1st, 2020, is the official reference day for the census (a.k.a. “Census Day”), the actual census starts on January 1st and ends on July 31st. Why should you bother filling the census out? After all, you’re just a speck of dust in the wind, right? Get this: every person who fails to fill out the census will cost their state $20,000 over the course of the decade. That’s right! You have $20,000 sitting in your hands. By answering a 9-question quiz, you can hand that $20,000 over to your state to keep food and healthcare support programs running strong.

Do You Want to Help Spread the Word?

Now that you know the value of the census, do you want to help spread the word? You can embed our Census Champion Training deck on your website by copying the embed link below. Add a dash of entertainment, excitement, and positive knowledge to your website. What are you waiting for? Bring the power of the 2020 census to your audience! Are you looking for more embeddable learning decks? Check out our decks, paths, and other lessons! We’ll see you next time.