The U.S. Census Bureau has resumed conducting in-person interviews associated with its ongoing household surveys in 21 states, including those associated with the Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey. Some states will be fully open, while others will have only certain areas where operations will occur. The Census Bureau will first still attempt to collect information over the phone or online when possible and only expects to have to conduct in-person interviews to an expected less than 1,000 households. The Census Bureau will update an online map each week showing where in-person interviews are taking place.
In March 2020, the Census Bureau temporarily switched from visiting survey participant’s households to calling them amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the National Processing Center (NPC) halted mailing out forms but will resume all mailout operations for surveys. Specifically, they will resume operations in time for August Current Population Survey interviewing, and September interviewing for all other surveys.
In addition to the census every 10 years, the Census Bureau conducts more than 100 ongoing surveys to collect timely information about the nation’s people, places and economy. Responses to ongoing surveys help produce accurate, reliable statistics on employment, infrastructure, education, economic opportunities and other important characteristics of the community. This information helps policymakers, local officials, companies and organizations to understand and assess the resources and needs of communities across the country.
“Your response to Census Bureau surveys is as important now as it ever has been. Our communities need accurate and timely information to make informed decisions,” said Census Bureau Director Dr. Steven Dillingham. “During this unprecedented time, the health and safety of our employees and the public continue to be the Census Bureau’s top priority. We are closely following public health guidance to ensure that we can safely accomplish our important mission.”
The following surveys will resume in-person interviews and mailing of paper forms:
- American Community Survey — Helps local officials, community leaders and businesses understand the changes taking place in their communities. It is the premier source for detailed population and housing information about our nation.
- Current Population Survey — Sponsored jointly by the Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is the primary source of labor force statistics for the population of the United States.
- Consumer Expenditures Survey — This survey collects the data needed for the calculation of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the nation’s most important measure of inflation.
- National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey — Data is used to provide national statistics on ambulatory care that can be used to improve professional education curricula for health care workers, formulate health policy, inform medical practice management, and evaluate quality of care.
- National Crime Victimization Survey — Data from this survey is used to provide information on many topics related to crime and victimization, including crime in schools, trends in violent crime, costs of crime, and the response of law enforcement to reports of victimization.
- National Health Interview Survey — The collection and analysis of data on such topics as medical conditions, health insurance, doctor’s office visits, physical activity, and other health behaviors. Government agencies, universities, private health planners, and researchers use the data to identify and work on significant health problems.
- National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey — Provides a more accurate yearly national description of hospital-based ambulatory medical care services.
- Survey of Construction — Provides current national and regional statistics on starts, completions and characteristics of new, privately owned single-family and multifamily housing units and on sales of new single-family houses.
- Survey of Market Absorption — Collects data for new residential construction. The SOMA reports provide information on amenities, rent/sales price levels, number of units, type of building, and the number of units taken off the market (absorbed).
What Households Can Expect
Even though in-person interviews are resuming, the Census Bureau will first still attempt to collect information over the phone or online when possible. If a response is not obtained by phone, an in-person interview is required. For those that can be completed over the phone, households selected to participate in a Census Bureau survey can expect to receive an introduction letter in the mail inviting the household to call a Census Bureau field representative to schedule a phone interview. The Census Bureau may attempt to call the household and encourage the household to answer the survey over the phone. If no response is received by phone, a Census Bureau field representative will come to the house for an in-person interview. All letters from the Census Bureau inviting households to participate in a survey will contain instructions on how to participate, as well as information on how to verify the letter.
The field representatives will follow public health guidelines when they visit, including any local requirements about wearing face masks. All field representatives must complete virtual COVID-19 training on social distancing protocols and other health and safety guidance before beginning their work in neighborhoods.
The field representatives can be identified by their valid government ID badge with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. To confirm a representative’s identity, the public may contact their Regional Office.