By on 2.8.19 in Carolina Demographics, Census 2020

Counting all residents is a complex undertaking. Who is counted? And how does the Census Bureau capture unique populations, such as the homeless or military personnel?

These questions, and more, were asked last week at “Making NC Count,” the first statewide convening by the NC Counts Coalition. Here’s what you need to know:

Is it a law that everyone gets counted?

Article 1 Section 2 of the Constitution mandates that the US take a Census every 10 years; this is a count of every person residing in the United States.

What will be done to count people who are homeless?

“The 2020 Census will capture data on people experiencing homelessness primarily through Service-Based Enumeration (counting people at places where they receive services, such as shelters and meal centers), Enumeration at Transitory Locations (counting people at places like hotels and campgrounds), and through a probe question on the census form.” – Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality

How are college students counted?

College students are counted at their “usual residence,” meaning the place at which they live and sleep for most of the year. For college students living on-campus or in off-campus housing, they should be counted at their college or university. Only college students who live and sleep at their parental home most of the time should be counted at their home. Full details on the residence rules for the 2020 census can be found here.

How is the military counted?

Military personnel are counted at their “usual residence,” meaning where they usually live and sleep. Military personnel who are currently deployed or stationed abroad are counted according to the new residence rules detailed in this memo. These new rules will have a significant impact on North Carolina by better capturing the size of our state’s military communities.

How does the Census deal with questions left blank? If a question is left blank, will the rest of the information be captured and reported, or will that negate the form?

Census forms submitted without responses to all questions will still be counted. The Census Bureau does its best to pursue complete information from all Americans and may deal with the missing data in a variety of ways, including calling the household, sending an in-person enumerator, using data from other federal sources, or using statistical imputation.

Note: Refusal to answer Census Bureau questions is prosecutable by law. The Bureau has not pursued legal action for non-response in recent decades.

If the citizenship question is on the Census, if residents are not citizens, are they included in determining US representation since they do not vote?

Who is included in the apportionment population counts?

“The apportionment calculation is based upon the total resident population (citizens and non-citizens) of the 50 states. In the 2010 Census, the apportionment population also includes U.S. Armed Forces personnel and federal civilian employees stationed outside the United States (and their dependents living with them) that can be allocated, based on administrative records, back to a home state. This is the same procedure used in 2000.” – US Census Bureau

Thank you to Stacey Carless, Executive Director of the NC Counts Coalition, for compiling this list.


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