Frequently Asked Questions 
about the 2020 Census



What is the 2020 Census?

The Census has been a cornerstone of our democracy since the first national count in 1790. The count is mandated by the Constitution and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency. 

The 2020 Census counts the population in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands).

Why does the Census matter?

The Census determines representation for federal and state governments – how many people represent Lorain County and Ohio in Congress and Columbus. It also determines federal funding of a variety of projects and services including roads, schools and industries. Every person counted equates to $2,000 in federal funding for our community for each of the next 10 years. For Head Start alone $8 billion in funding is driven by the Census.

When do I complete the Census?

In mid-March, you will receive a postcard inviting you to complete the census in one of three ways: by phone, by mail or online. This is the first Census where online completion is offered and the Census bureau expects approximately 45 percent of respondents to use that method.

How long will it take to do the Census?

Completing the online, phone or paper questionnaire takes between 10 and 15 minutes.

What are the questions?

The Census Bureau has released sample questionnaires which can be viewed by clicking here.

These are personal questions. I don’t want people to know this information. Why should I fill this out?

By law, the Census is confidential. Your information is not used to identify you; it is only used to create statistics. There are serious penalties for anyone who breaches this confidentiality which lasts 72 years. The Census Bureau cannot even share the information with other federal agencies.

Will someone come to my house?

The only reason someone will come to your house is if you don’t respond. Special plans are in place to make sure people in hard to reach areas are counted (places like remote Alaska). If you don’t complete the Census online, you will receive a paper questionnaire. If you don’t return it, a Census worker will come to your house. You will receive several reminders to complete the Census before anyone comes to your house. If your form is incomplete or not readable, someone may come to your house. 

My kids split their time between my house in Elyria and their father’s house in Wellington. Which one of us counts the kids?

Everyone is counted where they are on April 1, 2020 – this is the official Census Day. Your kids should be counted based on where they sleep on April 1, 2020. This also applies to “snowbirds” or families who split their time between multiple locations. Special plans are in place to count college students living in dorms. If your child is away at school on April 1, don’t include them in your household count.

Do I have to answer all the questions?

An incomplete form or one that is not readable may mean a Census worker comes to your house to clarify your responses.

Is there a citizenship question on the 2020 Census?

No. After much debate and a legal battle, residents will not be asked if they are U.S. citizens on the 2020 Census. The Census counts residents not citizens.

My parents don’t speak English. How can they complete the Census?

Online, the Census is available in 13 languages. Language guides are available in many more languages to guide residents in completing the form. Spanish forms are being distributed in particular areas, such as Puerto Rico. Special assistance is also available for the blind and disabled.

My family doesn’t have a computer. How can I complete the Census?

It’s perfectly fine to complete the Census on a public computer such as those at public libraries. If you prefer, you can use the phone option or complete the paper questionnaire.

Who does all this work?

The Census Bureau has been hiring for months and continues to hire. The 2020 Census is the largest, non-military operation in the U.S.

How do I get a Census job?

Go to to apply. A variety of jobs with flexible hours are available. The pay rate varies depending on where you work. Jobs in Lorain County pay approximately $17 an hour. Also watch OhioMeansJobs Lorain County for local hiring events.