Amid Covid-19 Pandemic, 2020 Census Self-Response Deadline Has Been Extended to October 31

Jim Murray | Business, Science and Technology Department, Central Library

Due to the upheaval created by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Census Bureau has decided to shift the deadline for resident self-response to the 2020 Census questionnaire from July 31 to October 31. Resident self-response is the principle means by which the bureau collects and records demographic information about the population for the decennial Census. Whereas, throughout much of its history the bureau obtained this information by having enumerators contact residents, for the past several decades they have giving residents the opportunity to be proactive and “self-respond” by providing answers to the Census questionnaire by either mail, phone, or, for the first time in 2020, the internet.

Most U.S. residents were mailed an invitation to self-respond online to the 2020 Census in mid-March. The invitation included a unique Census ID number that matches the self-responder to his or her address. This ID is not, however, required in order to complete the online questionnaire. Instructions are available on the Census Bureau website that provide an explanation of how to proceed with the questionnaire if you do not have your ID number.

As of May 20, 58% of Alabama’s residents have self-responded to the 2020 Census. Meanwhile, compared to the rest of the state, Jefferson County residents have a higher self-response rate of 59.8% and Birmingham residents have a lower score of 49.9%.

The good news for Birmingham is that the three-month extension of the self-response deadline gives us even more time to complete our Census questionnaires. But, let’s not wait until the last minute. There is no better time than the present to seize the opportunity to do all we can to help our city obtain its fair share of federal funding that is based on 2020 Census population data. A less than maximum response to the Census would have a far reaching negative effect on this vital funding for our health care resources, emergency response services, schools and educational programs, road and bridge construction, public transportation, housing assistance, and a variety of community development initiatives.

To get started with your self-response, please visit the Birmingham Public Library’s Birmingham Counts! webpage. There at the top you will find a link to the 2020 Census questionnaire. It only takes a few minutes to complete, but the impact you make can last for years.