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The U.S. Constitution requires a complete count of the nation’s population every 10 years, but many people do not realize how it works and how important the census is to our community.

The decennial census is less than 80 days away

In Mid-March most households will receive a letter from the U.S. Census Bureau inviting them to respond to the 2020 census. Additional mailings will happen roughly each week until the household responds to the Census or a census-taker is able to collect the information in person. Because a nationwide count of every person in the United States only occurs every ten years, the results of the census affect us for the next decade.

An accurate count ensures fair political representation

The U.S. Census is one of the foundations of our form of government and it’s the first census in the world that was created to give the people power over their government rather than for taxation or conscription into military service. Each state is be equal in the Senate, but representation in the House of Representatives is based on population, so the number of representatives each state has in Congress is based on the official census population.

Counting every person brings more federal tax dollars back to Tennessee

The constitution establishes that the census will be used to apportion direct taxes, meaning that part of our federal tax money is redistributed back to the states based on their population. More than $675 billion is returned each year to support services everyone uses such transportation, health care, education, communication and public safety. When some aren’t counted, it reduces the community’s ability to plan for and provide services that benefit everyone.

Online response is the big change this year

For the first time, people will have the option of responding to the census online using their smart phone or a computer, or they can respond by phone, by mail. Waiting until a census-taker comes to the door costs us all more.

There are only nine questions

The census questionnaire asks just a few questions about each individual living in the home and takes just a few minutes to respond. The householder will need to provide the name, age, sex and race for each person and their relationship to the householder.

Anyone who sleeps in the home should be counted

It’s very important that you include include everyone living or staying in the home, regardless of the person’s age or relationship to the householder. Anyone who does not live most of the time in another place where they will be counted should be counted in your home. Be sure to count infants and young children in the home, whether they are in your custody or not.

There is no risk in responding to the census

Information provided to the U.S. Census Bureau is completely confidential and will not be released to anyone. Under federal law, census responses cannot be shared with any other government agencies and can never be used against you in any way. There are no exceptions.

Scammers are taking advantage of the Census

Please be aware that the Census Bureau will not contact you by email and will only call you on the phone if they need to verify information you provided. If you receive an email about the census, please delete it and do not respond. Also, the census will not ask you for your full social security number or for any financial information such as banking or credit information.

Word of mouth will make the difference

Conducting the census is a massive undertaking. We encourage everyone to join us in spreading the word. Talk with your friends and neighbors and any community organizations you meet with and tell them how important it is to you all that they respond to the census. Help your community understand that the census is easy and confidential.

They need more census-takers

Estimates show 20% of Tennesseans will not respond to the census on their own and we will need to send a census-taker to their door. We are hiring tens of thousands of our neighbors to do this important job, but we just aren’t getting enough applicants. Please spread the word that census jobs pay well, have flexible hours and start very soon!

Census-takers work on their own schedule based on their availability so it’s easy to do this in addition to your other responsibilities. Much of the work will take place afternoons, evenings and weekends.

You will be visiting homes that have not responded to the census on their own to help ensure that everyone is counted.

Hiring is happening now. Work will likely run from training and preparatory work in February and March, to field assignments for three to eight weeks between April and June.

Applicants must be 18 or older, have a valid email address, and have access to reliable transportation.

Other requirements, details, and the online application are available at 2020census.gov/jobs

Just about anyone can be a census-taker. Some do it for some extra money, others do it to be part of history, others out of civic duty, and others for fun because they enjoy getting to know more of their neighbors. Whatever your motivation, please apply to help shape the future of your community.

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