Frequently Asked Questions


What is the decennial census and how often does it take place?

A census is an official count or survey of a population. The U.S. Constitution mandates a population count each decade, or every 10 years. The next decennial census takes place on April 1, 2020.  

Why is the decennial census important? 

The decennial census is important because it provides a snapshot of the entire nation. It is mandated by the Constitution and determines a state’s representation in the U.S House of Representatives. Additionally, population data from the census determines critical funding that states receive. 

What types of questions appear on the 2020 census?

The decennial census typically asks questions of people in homes and group living situations, including how many people live or stay in each household, and the gender, age, and race of each person. Questions asked on the census include:

  • 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 with 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.

 You can view an example of 2020 questionnaire on the Census Bureau’s website here. 

What types of questions will NOT appear on the 2020 census?

The Census Bureau will NOT ask you or any members of your household to provide your Social Security Number or your citizenship status. 

Will someone from the Census Bureau come to my door?

The Census Bureau will send employees, sometimes referred to as enumerators, to visit households who have not responded to the 2020 census questionnaire. They will be clearly identified as Census Bureau employees and they will ask you to fill out the survey while they are there.

How will people be counted who live in dormitories, nursing homes, shelters or other facilities?

The Census Bureau will conduct a separate enumeration for people living in group quarters.  For college students, this count will begin in March 2020. Please visit the Census Bureau, to learn more about how students and other residents who live in different facilities will be enumerated. 

How should on-campus and off-campus college students be counted?

College students should be counted where they live and sleep most of the time. College and university administrators will count students living on-campus during a specified enumeration period. However, students living off-campus will need to respond to the census questionnaire themselves. 

How do pregnant individuals count the number of children in their household during the census?

According to the Census Bureau, you count the number of children that are present in a household on April 1st, 2020. If the child has not been delivered by April 1st, the baby will not be counted until the next decennial census. 

If my grandchildren are living with me should I count them?

Yes, if a grandchild is living with you full time, they should be counted on your census form. If they are sharing time between two physical locations (say their parents’ home and your home equally) they should be counted at the home they are at on April 1, 2020.  

Are there resources for people who do not speak English?

Yes, the census will be available in 13 languages. In addition to English, the census will also be made available in Arabic, French, Haitian Creole, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Tagalog, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese. Telephone responses will be accepted in these 13 languages. Paper forms will be printed in English and Spanish. Additionally, language guides and glossaries will be available in 59 non-English languages, including Braille and American Sign Language.

When will households receive mailed communications to complete the 2020 census?

Beginning March 2020, households will receive a postcard in the mail, with the option to fill out the census questionnaire either online, by phone, or request a paper copy. Visit the Census Bureau website to view a general timeline.

Can non-census workers help individuals complete the 2020 census questionnaire?

Yes. According to the Census Bureau, non-census workers can assist neighbors, friends and loved ones in completing the census.

If you need assistance completing your 2020 census questionnaire, you can visit a Census Hub in your local community. Essentially, Census Hubs are publicly accessible spaces where people can ask questions about the census, receive support from trained staff members and complete the census online using available computers or mobile devices. Census Hubs are located in familiar community spaces, including libraries, community centers, and some faith-based organizations.


What steps is the Census Bureau taking to protect my information when completing the Census 2020 questionnaire?

The Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about you or your home, even to law enforcement agencies. Census Bureau employees are bound by law to protect your answers and keep them strictly confidential. In fact, every employee takes an oath to protect your personal information for life. Visit the Census Bureau website to learn more information on how your information is being protected.

Are there jobs available with the Census Bureau during this process?

The Census Bureau is actively seeking individuals to apply for thousands of local job openings in the region. Eligible candidates should be 18 years or older and current U.S. citizens. Visit for more
information and to apply.

How can I stay informed of the local efforts underway for the 2020 Census?

Sign up to receive updates regarding efforts underway to prepare residents living in Allegheny County for the 2020 census.

Be Counted 2020

Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh are working together to ensure that residents living in all 130 municipalities are counted.

© 2019 Allegheny County + City of Pittsburgh