Census 2020

Whidbey Community Foundation received a grant from the Washington Census Equity Fund which will help us promote a robust and accurate count in the 2020 Census.

WCF will provide targeted training opportunities for local nonprofit organizations, informational handouts, and a public outreach campaign. Training for nonprofits will include workshops for staff, board members, and volunteers that work with hard-to-count individuals from all backgrounds on Whidbey Island. 

What is the census?

The decennial census is the constitutionally required once-a-decade population and housing count of every person living in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Island Areas of the United States. Census data are used:

  • To reapportion seats in the US House of Representatives, and to draw state and local legislative districts, ensuring fair political representation
  • To allocate over $800 billion nationally in federal programs and resources
  • By elected officials, businesses and other decisionmakers to make critical economic decisions and to inform public policy solutions

What’s at stake?

Census data is used to determine how more than $800 billion in federal funds are distributed back to local communities every year for services and infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, fire departments and roads.

There’s approximately $13.7 billion in federal funds at stake for Washington state. These funds are used to fund programs such as Medicaid, SNAP, housing assistance, funding for vital infrastructure, transportation. All of the things that make our state a unique place to live.

In 2010, a 1% undercount would have missed 67,245 people in Washington, losing the state $2,614,278 from census-derived federal programs.

How do you get counted?

This is the first census that will be primarily conducted on-line. In March of 2020, you will receive a postcard inviting you to take the census. On March 23, 2020, the census website will go live. If you have not completed the census online by April 8, you will receive a reminder letter with a paper survey. Census staff may follow up for in person interviews in May-July 2020.

Census timeline

  • March 12 – 20, 2020: Invitation postcards sent to households 
  • March 23: Website goes live 
  • March 16 – April 4: Reminder letters sent 
  • April 1: Census Day 
  • April 8 – 16: Letters with paper surveys sent to those who have not responded 
  • May – July: In person follow-ups by Census Enumerators

Hard-to-count populations in Washington

  • Total population: 7,073,146
  • Percentage in hard-to-count areas: 11%
  • Population in tracts NOT receiving census by mail: 53,267
  • Percentage of households with NO internet / dial-up internet only: 12.6%

Washington has more than 1.6 million residents from historically “hard-to-count” population groups, including communities of color, Native Americans both on and off tribal lands, immigrants and limited English speakers, young children and rural residents of all backgrounds.

Risks to the success of the 2020 Census include a new online format, a lack of testing and a shortage of federal funding for outreach. The new online innovations increase the potential to omit residents where housing has grown or changed, to overlook those with less computer literacy or broadband access, and to undercount hard-to-count populations.

Information provided by the US Census Bureau, Washington Nonprofits, Philanthropy Northwest, Island County, and Snohomish County.