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Coming Soon To Mailboxes In Utah: The 2020 Census

Photo of 2020 Census form header.
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Most of the U.S. will begin to receive invitations to complete the 2020 U.S. Census Thursday. The count will wrap up by the end of July.

Beginning Thursday, Utah households will start receiving a notice in the mail to fill out the 2020 U.S. Census. The attempt to count everyone in the country happens once a decade and affects how billions of Federal dollars are distributed. 

This year, every household in the country will have the option of responding by mail and — for the first time — online or by phone. 

Evan Curtis, co-chair of the Utah Complete Count Committee said the new options bring a lot of unknowns. 

“But it's also going to be much easier than it's ever been in the past to go online, anywhere you have access from from a smartphone, and you can complete your census,” Curtis said.

If households don’t respond by late March, they’ll get a reminder, and if no response is sent by late April, a census worker will follow up in person. 

A decade ago, about 20% of Utah households didn’t mail back their questionnaire, which meant more expensive and difficult in-person follow ups. 

Curtis said Utah faces some unique challenges in counting its residents, especially as it is one of the fastest growing and youngest states in the country. 

“We've had a lot of changes,” Curtis said.” We're becoming much more diverse as a population. We've got a lot of new residents who weren't here during the last census.”

He said the Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islanders communities, and children under the age of 5 have been considered some of the hardest populations to count. 

Last census, about 8% of Utahns — or 249,251 people — lived in hard-to-count neighborhoods which are census tracts where at least a quarter of households didn’t send back their questionnaires. Large swathes of rural Tooele and Summit county are considered hard to count, as are small pockets of diverse neighborhoods in Salt lake and Davis counties. 

Utah received about $9 billion in federal funding in 2017 based on the 2010 census, which gets allocated to things like public schools, roads, and public transportation. Curtis said the count also directs how state tax dollars are distributed as well, including state sales taxes and the motor fuel tax.

“Really all of our public funding in one way or another is directed by census counts,” he said.

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