Library Resources, Research, Tools & Tips

#GetCounted in the 2020 Census

By Tierney Gleason, Reference and Digital Humanities Librarian

The 2020 Census

As we cope with these uncertain times and try our best to finish the semester online, it’s important to remember the 2020 Census. Mandated by Article I, Section 2 of The Constitution, the Decennial Census for Population and Housing is conducted every ten years to count where all people, including immigrants, are living on April 1st. The population count determines the number of seats for each state in the U.S. House of Representatives, the allocation of federal tax dollars for community resources, and the data is used by local governments, schools, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and individuals who organize to advocate for community services and improvements.

Responding to the 2020 Census

The U.S. Census Bureau mailed out invitations to participate in the census between March 12th and 20th. These mailings offer three ways to respond: by mail, by phone, or online. Responses by phone or online at will need to obtain the Census ID listed from the mailings to submit completed questionnaires. With the advent of COVID-19, self-responses online, by phone, or by mail are encouraged since that will prevent the need for census takers to visit households in-person to complete the count. (Field operations for the census are currently on hold until April 15th.)

Wondering what this means for students who would have normally been living in the dorms at Fordham before COVID-19 closures? This video from the U.S. Census Bureau explains how the Bureau is working with colleges and universities to count students who would have normally been living on campus:

The Census & New York City

In 2010, only 62% of New York households self-responded to the census. Check out the resources from the City of New York promoting the 2020 Census (including a PSA from a famous Bronx native) and the 2020 Census website to learn more about the census questions, the importance of the count, and how the count is being impacted by COVID-19. As of March 29th, New York City has a 24.8% response rate:

A map of New York City's response rate for the 2020 census. The self-response rate was 29.6% as of March 29th, 2020.
Image source: Response Rates Map at Watch this video to learn how to use this map.

Resources at Fordham Libraries

To prepare for the 2020 Census, Fordham Reference Librarians updated their research guides to provide the Fordham community with links to the 2020 Census website, various access points to research historical census data, and additional data from the 130+ surveys conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. These resources are located in the Demographic Data & Population Studies guide. If you have questions about finding census data or developing assignments using census data, contact Tierney Gleason, Reference & Digital Humanities Librarian for assistance.

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