2020 Census: Making sure everyone counts

Posted at 9:49 AM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 10:49:49-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — It takes less than 10 minutes, but in that time, the information collected has a huge price tag. Billions of dollars in federal funds are allocated to critical public services like hospitals and schools based off of the information the U.S. census collects.

Officials say Nebraska's response rate is down compared to this time in 2010, but Stephen Buckner with the U.S. Census Bureau says that's not a fair comparison.

"The 2020 census design is so different," Buckner said. "We did a phased mailing between March 12 and the 18. In 2010, it went out all at once so those rates are just hard to compare. "

While the bureau could prepare for changes due to the design, the coronavirus changed things up even more. On top of pushing back the date for census workers to start canvassing, it also moved a lot of students.

"And what that's done is really taken the student population from areas they normally live and be counted in and they may be elsewhere now," Buckner said.

Student housing takes care of the census info for on campus students, meaning if you lived in a dorm, you don't have to do anything and your parents should not include you on their census information.

If you lived off campus it's a different story.

"We've already sent you an invitation which you're probably not getting in your mail," Buckner said, "But we do need you to regardless of where you're living today. We need you to go online to and fill it out as of the address you were living when you were attending classes."

This will take a little extra work on the student's end, but officials say the census is an investment in the future.

And those ten minutes could have a huge impact on your community.

While Nebraska's numbers are down compared to this time in 2010, it's well above the national average with more than half of all Nebraskans responding.