Every 10 years, the U.S. Census counts every resident in the United States. The next census in 2020 will require counting a population of approximately 330 million people in more than 140 million housing units. By April 1, 2020, every household will receive an invitation to complete a form—either online, by phone, or by mail—that asks questions about all of the people who live and sleep in a household, regardless of their citizenship status.
The census count is used to determine representation in state capitols and Washington, D.C., and it affects the allocation of more than $800 billion in federal government funding nationwide. Critical programs and services that adult education communities rely on, such as libraries and nonprofit organizations, could be impacted. That’s why every person should count—no matter who they are or where they live.
Adult education remains critical for workers who are looking to advance economically, including those in low-wage earning jobs, opportunity youth, immigrant-origin adults, and parent learners. We know that adult learners already represent about 14 percent of the U.S. population. Getting an accurate count in 2020 is a fundamental step in determining our educational and workforce needs on a national scale.
It’s important to inform hard-to-reach and undercounted groups and communities that the 2020 Census process can be quick, easy, and safe. You can share this video and provide information about participation in the 2020 Census by hosting events or workshops, reminding communities to avoid fraudulent or scam forms and sharing that the information provided to the Census Bureau is confidential. The National Literacy Council’s website also has an extensive list of helpful resources for teaching and learning, programs, and advocacy.
Additionally, the Census is hiring up to 500,000 part-time and temporary workers to support with address canvassing throughout the nation. Many adult learners may be eligible and interested in helping individuals in their local communities complete their forms. You can share this information and encourage adult learners to apply.
Some groups and communities—such as young children, low-income households, people experiencing homelessness, and undocumented immigrants—have been historically undercounted in previous years. This is due to the challenges of locating, interviewing, contacting, or persuading them to participate. While most people will receive forms in the mail, paid Census field workers will also visit homes in remote or rural areas without reliable mail delivery or traditional mailing addresses. States with large recent and growing immigrant populations, for example, are at risk of a more pronounced undercount, according to the Population Reference U.S. Census Bureau (PRB). Learn more about how the U.S. Census Bureau identifies hard-to-count groups.
Check out the American Library Associations’ Guide to the 2020 Census for more ideas on what libraries and other organizations can offer. To stay informed about the latest news in adult learning, sign-up to receive our newsletter.