Census Bureau Releases List of Subjects for 2020 Census

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By on March 29, 2017 in Agency News with 0 Comments

Close up of a person's hand checking off a list of checkboxes on a survey with a highlighter

The Census Bureau has provided Congress with a list of questions it plans to ask Americans in the upcoming 2020 Census survey.

Categories include gender, age, race, ethnicity, relationship and home ownership status. The publication released by the Census Bureau (included below) also provides explanations of each of the categories of questions and how they are used by the government.

Sexual Orientation

Absent from the list of topics are any questions having to do with one’s sexual orientation. Some lawmakers in Congress wanted the Census to cover this subject, and gay rights groups have been advocating it as well.

According to The Hill, the Census Bureau published an initial draft online Tuesday morning that contained sexual orientation questions, but then the final draft of questions submitted later that afternoon did not include the questions. The Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization representing the LGBT community, blamed the Trump administration for the change, however, The Hill cited Census experts who said that adding new questions often takes years so the change may not be due to politics.

The agency has never asked about sexual orientation in the past and apparently has no intent to start in 2020 based on what was provided to Congress.

Update: As of October 2017, the Census Bureau said it will leave a question about sexual orientation on at least one of its surveys after an outcry from gay rights groups.

By law, the Census Bureau must deliver decennial census subjects to Congress three years before Census Day, with the next one occurring April 1, 2020. The subjects represent the necessary balance between the need for data and the Census Bureau’s commitment to reduce the time it takes to complete the form. By law, the actual questions that will appear on the 2020 Census questionnaire must be submitted to Congress by March 31, 2018.

Census Goes Online

Also, for the first time ever, the agency will allow Americans to respond to the survey online. Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson said the ultimate goal of the online response method is improving question design and data quality while addressing community concerns.

Thompson also said, “In planning for the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau has focused on improving its address list by using imagery, finding ways to increase household self-response, leveraging resources inside and outside the government, and making it easier and more efficient for census takers to complete their work.”

Planned 2020 Census Questions

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.

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