CENTRAL FALLS, RI – Next week, starting March 12, Americans will begin receiving letters from the U.S. Census Bureau inviting them to fill out the 2020 Census.  And for the first time in U.S. Census history, the mailed invitations will include a code that can be used to respond to the census online.

Today, at the Central Falls Adams Library, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Representatives Jim Langevin and David Cicilline will join Central Falls Mayor James Diossa, Co-Chair of the Rhode Island Complete Count Committee; officials from the U.S. Census; local librarians; and Progresso Latino and other community advocates to discuss the census and the importance of participation from residents.

“The Census effects everyone and everyone should be counted.  This once a decade survey helps shape our future, so it is important to fill it out.  The results help set federal funding levels that affect everything from schools, roads, and hospitals to representation in Congress.  An undercount in the 2020 Census would mean missing out on critical federal resources,” said Senator Reed

Rhode Island’s leaders are encouraging everyone to complete the national survey and are providing assistance to ensure an accurate and complete count of the constitutionally required head count of every person living in the United States.

The Census consists of about ten questions that are confidential, with stiff prison sentences and fines to any who compromise it. Under federal law, indentifiable information from the Census is kept confidential and no identifiable information about individuals, households, or businesses will be released, not even to law enforcement, landlords, or employers, for 72 years until the records are made public by the National Archives and Records Administration. 

To help people submit their information online, the U.S. Census Bureau is teaming up with local organizations like libraries who can provide Internet access and trained professionals who can assist residents with questions about filling out the form.  Library staff can help patrons navigate the website and with technical issues, but cannot fill out the answers to the questions.  The Census will also accept responses over the phone and on paper forms.

The Census Bureau will begin accepting responses online, by phone, and mail March 12, and it will continue to accept responses through Friday, July 31, when the count officially ends.

The Census Bureau conducted only one End-to-End Census Test nationwide, which took place in Providence County in 2018 and served as a dry run for this year’s census.  People who took part in the 2018 pre-test must still complete the official 2020 Census. 

The overall self-response rate to the pre-test in Providence County was about 52 percent.  The Census Bureau estimates that with the help of a national ad campaign and other promotional efforts, the response rate for the 2020 Census will be over 60 percent.  There are approximately 137 million housing units nationwide.  If the Census Bureau’s estimated response rate is accurate, it means that census takers will have to visit about 54 million households that haven’t responded to help ensure everyone is counted.

The Census Bureau has also announced it is hiring temporary employees across the state.  Click here for more information on how to apply.