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Along with the beginning of a new decade and a presidential general election, the year 2020 also brings the decennial U.S. Census.
According to the Iowa Data Center, “The census is a count of everyone residing in the United States: in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa. This includes people of all ages, races, ethnic groups, both citizens and non-citizens.”
In the weeks leading up to “Census Day” April 1, federal, state, and local governments will release details pertaining to participation in the Census.
By April 1, every home in the United States will have received an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census.
The Census itself is mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution.
The results of the Census help determine how billions of dollars in federal funding flow into states and communities each year for such services as health clinics, schools, fire departments, roads, and other recipients of federal assistance.
The results also determine how many seats in Congress each state gets.
The number of Congressional seats determines the number of electoral votes each state may cast in presidential elections, an important factor as evidenced by the outcome of recent presidential elections.
The Census may also provide an avenue of temporary income to anyone wanting to assist in the 2020 Census.
The Census Bureau is currently recruiting hundreds of thousands of individuals to serve as census takers, field supervisors, recruiting assistants, and clerks.
The published hourly rate for census takers in Iowa is $17.50 plus work-related mileage and expenses, where applicable.
People who already have jobs and want to earn extra income evenings and weekends are also encouraged to apply. The selection process begins this month, with paid training occurring in March and April. After paid training, most positions work between May and early July.
Interested individuals may apply at 2020census.gov.
For the first time, Americans will be able to complete the Census entirely online, in addition to the traditional responses via mail or phone.
In April, Census takers will begin visiting college students who live on campus, people living in senior centers, and others who live among large groups of people. Census takers also begin conducting quality check interviews to help ensure an accurate count.
In May the Census Bureau will begin visiting homes that haven’t responded to the 2020 Census to make sure everyone is counted.
By December the Census Bureau will deliver apportionment counts to the President and Congress.
By March 2021, the Census Bureau will send redistricting counts to states. This information is used to redraw legislative districts based on population changes.