Your response matters! Census results help determine how billions of dollars in federal funding flow into states and communities each year, shaping many aspects of your community: schools, health clinics, roads, and more.
Every 10 years, the federal government conducts a population count of everyone in the United States. This once-in-a-decade snapshot of who we are is mandated by the U.S. Constitution. You are an important part of that picture and your response counts.
April 1, 2020 is 2020 Census Day. You may receive information prior to that time, but you are asked to count everyone who is living in your residence as of April 1, 2020. More information about the timeline and who to count in the Frequently Asked Questions below.
The Importance of Census 2020
Census 2020 is important for dollars, democracy, and data.
In 2016 the federal government distributed more than $880 billion dollars for health, education, and infrastructure. Washington State received $16.7 billion dollars in federal funds, or $2,319 per person:
- $8.5 billion for health programs
- $2.4 billion for education
- $1.2 billion for housing
- $550 million for rural assistance programs
- Nearly $1 billion in bridge and highway maintenance and construction
For each 100 households missed in the 2020 Census, Washington could lose $5.8 million over a 10-year period. As the Washington Census Alliance says, “Because the Census happens only once every 10 years, the consequences of having inaccurate data are not just statistical. People’s lives could be significantly impacted for an entire decade.”
More information about the financial importance of the 2020 Census:
- Why is the Census important to Washington’s cities and towns? Association of Washington Cities website
- Counting for Dollars 2020: The Role of the Decennial Census in the Geographic Distribution of Federal Funds, George Washington Institute of Public Policy (pdf)
- Federal funds from five key Census-guided programs, George Washington Institute of Public Policy (pdf)
- The results of the Census determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives. In the 2010 Census, Washington gained an additional representative to Congress.
- Census data is also used to draw congressional and state legislative districts, as well every level of government down to school districts.
- Completing Census 2020 is your civic duty.
- Federal, state and local government agencies rely on Census data for planning and delivering services. Local governments use it to plan public safety and prepare for emergencies, Transportation planners use it to determine public transit routes and the location of roads and bridges.
- Businesses use Census data to decide where to build factories, offices, and stores. Developers use it to decide where to build houses or commercial buildings.
- Nonprofits, and citizen organizations use Census date to identify community needs, requesting funding for programs and putting forth community initiatives involving quality-of-life issues and consumer advocacy.
More information about how Census data is used:
- Why is the 2020 Census important? Office of Financial Management, State of Washington
- Census Data: indispensable intelligence for the nation, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, University of Virginia
- Uses of Data, United States Census Bureau
- Why does the Census matter? Washington Census Alliance
Local Census Resources
Questionnaire Assistance Center
The Bellingham Public Library is partnering with the Bellingham/Whatcom County League of Women Voters to offer regularly scheduled Census 2020 Questionnaire Assistance Centers at the Central Library. Volunteers with Census 2020 training will be available to answer any questions and offer assistance in completing the online questionnaire. Laptops for public use will be set up for individuals to complete their own questionnaires.
Offers information on local events and location of where people can get assistance in answering the Census Questionnaire. This is also the contact for the Complete Count Committee of Whatcom County.
Christina Veloz, United States Census Bureau Tribal Partnership Specialist, 425-948-5122, christina.m.veloz@2020Census.gov