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  • Time to get the word out about the 2020 Census

By Myrna Trauntvein
Times-News Correspondent

The 2020 Censaus is quickly approaching and the population count which comes as a result will determine what funds the city will live with for the next 10 years.

DeAnn Zebelean, Partnership Specialist, Dallas Regional Census Center, U.S. Census Bureau, lead the pledge at the beginning of Nephi City Council meeting and then explained the importance of an accurate census for Nephi.

“We need your help in putting together a Complete Count Committee,” she said.

“Ms. Zebelean will, in addition, show how some of our local folks can secure temporary jobs which provide excellent pay; flexible hours and paid training,” said Kent Jones, council member.

Applications for the half-million temporary census positions, including door knockers and outreach specialists, must be submitted online. More information can be found on the bureau’s recruitment website. https://www.2020census.gov/en/jobs.html

“We need 75 applications from the area,” said Zebelean. “Right now we have 11 applicants. We pay $13.50 an hour.”

She said that people will start work in January 2020 and will work through July 2020.

“Do you need to hire that many?” asked Glade Nielson, mayor.

The Census Bureau operates on an historic algorithm and that indicates that they need that many applicants, said Zebelean.

“Your gas tax and sales tax are affected for the next 10 years,” she said. “The 2020 population numbers will shape how political power and federal tax dollars are shared in the U.S over the next 10 years. The number of congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets are determined by census numbers.”

Zebelean said that all citizens will be invited to participate in the census in early March via a mailing that will be sent to each city address.

“Most households can start participating around mid-March, when letters with instructions are scheduled to be sent to 95 percent of homes around the country,” she said.

The 2020 count will be the first one to allow all U.S. households to respond online. Paper forms will still be available, and, for the first time, people can call 1-800 numbers to give responses over the phone.

Census workers will make home visits to remote areas—including rural Alaska, parts of northern Maine and some American Indian reservations—to gather census information in person.

Households in the rest of the U.S. that do not respond themselves by early April may start receiving visits from door knockers trained to conduct census interviews and collect responses using smartphones.

By next April 1, the Census Bureau plans to send a letter or a door knocker to every U.S. household. It’s part of a once-a-decade tradition of counting every person living in the U.S.

The census is required by the Constitution, which has called for an “actual enumeration” once a decade since 1790.

The 2020 population numbers will also guide how an estimated $880 billion a year in federal funding is distributed for schools, roads and other public services in local communities.

The demographic data are used by businesses to determine, for example, where to build new supermarkets and by emergency responders to locate injured people after natural disasters.

“By law, your information is confidential,” said Zebelean. “Your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court.”

The Census Bureau includes every person living in the U.S., regardless of citizenship or immigration status.

“Our privacy principles guide our actions so that we respect your privacy and protect your confidentiality,” she said. “We do not identify individuals in the data, we can only publish statistics and our Disclosure Review Board verifies that any data product we release meets our confidentiality standards.”

Residents are counted at the address where they usually live and sleep. The Census Bureau has a detailed breakdown of how the 2020 census will count missionaries, deployed troops, college students, incarcerated people, those displaced by natural disasters and other groups in unique living situations.

“What about missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?” asked Jones.

“They will be counted where they serve if they are in the United States,” said Zebelean. “The military will be counted out of their base.”

Most of the questions will be similar to what census forms have asked for in recent counts: The number of people living or staying in a home on April 1, 2020; whether the home is owned with or without a mortgage, rented or occupied without rent; a phone number for a person in the home; the name, sex, age, date of birth and race of each person in the home; whether each person is of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin; the relationship of each person to a central person in the home.

Notable changes for 2020 include new write-in areas under the race question for the non-Hispanic origins of those who identify as white and/or black (“German” and “Jamaican” are among the provided examples). There are also new household relationship categories that allow couples living together to identify their relationships as either “same-sex” or “opposite-sex.”

“There are 13 languages available,” said Zebelean.

While paper forms will only be available in English and Spanish, people can respond online or by phone in Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Tagalog and Vietnamese.

The bureau is also providing video and printed guides in 59 non-English languages, as well as a video in American Sign Language.

Under current federal law, the bureau cannot share census responses identifying individuals with the public or other federal agencies, including immigration authorities and other law enforcement, until 72 years after the information is collected.

“The results are frozen at the household level for 72 years,” said Zebelean.

The non-responders are often hard to locate, hard to contact, hard to persuade and hard to interview. That is why local people are so helpful as employees because they can personally contact the non-responders.