LocationAlhambra , CA
The time to answer the 2020 census is quickly running out. In what U.S. Census Bureau employees are calling a “re-plan,” the U.S. government will stop data collection – or counting people – on September 30. This is one month sooner than the country had anticipated.
There are already census employees doing “door knocking” by showing up to the addresses where they have not received a reply to the census. They will attempt to fill out the census with you and come back if no one answers.
As of Aug. 7, more than 35% of the nation’s population has not been counted. The national response rate is 63.2%; California’s rate is slightly ahead with 64.5%. Los Angeles County is ranked 33 of 58 counties with a household response rate is 59.7%. That means at this time 40% of the 10 million people – roughly four million people – could be uncounted.
As a whole, Alhambra’s response rate is 70.8% and Congressional District 27 is 69.9%.
The census is mandated by the Constitution and conducted by the Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency, and must be completed every 10 years. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the census’ data collection but will still be completed this year.
Each census employee takes a lifetime oath of confidentiality to protect identifiable information about a person, their family, home or business – even to law enforcement. Violation of such oath is a federal crime.
The information shared can only produce demographic statistics for an area like number of people per home or age groups of occupants. This information tells politicians how to divide state and federal dollars to best serve the population.
There is a risk with relying only on recorded numbers to fund communities.
When there is an area that is undercounted, it means that city, county and state receive less money for education, hospitals and services – but they still have to support those people who are not represented in the numbers.
The San Gabriel Valley is considered a hard-to-count area – meaning its population has a high percentage of racial and ethnic minorities, immigrant and undocumented populations, low-income families and more. The U.S. Census Bureau has found that people in the hard-to-count populations can fall into many categories but are typically hard to count because they are hard to locate, interview, persuade and/or contact.
It is not just dollars that get distributed throughout the country, but the 435 U.S. House of Representatives are divvied up based on population. If the San Gabriel Valley is undercounted and California must give a representative seat to another state, it could lose its representation in congress.
Census takers can be identified by their official I.D. badge with their name, photograph, U.S. Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date. Some will have an official bag and bureau-issued tablet with the Census Bureau logo.
There are also some census Mobile Questionnaire Assistance staff at high-traffic areas like grocery stores, food pantries and pharmacies in hard-to-count areas.
Census takers who are doing door knocking to fill out your census with you will ask you for basic information including names, ages and race/ethnicity. There is no citizenship question, nor should you be asked for any payment or social security numbers.
You can respond by phone at 844-330-2020, or any of the 13 non-English language numbers here. The local Pasadena office has set up language assistance. Call 626-314-8635. Visit the City of Alhambra’s census page.
Max Tran contributed to reporting