Census News

The 2020 Census is gunning for Dallas' young and mobile population

The 2020 Census is gunning for Dallas' young and mobile population

Women on her cellphone in a mall
She's young, she's mobile, and the Census wants her. Courtesy photo

In mid-March, Dallas residents started getting invitations in the mail to complete the 2020 Census.

This year, there are three ways to fill it out: online, by phone, or by mail. For the first time, almost everyone is being invited to do it online. Your letter gives you your very own Census ID number, which is special.

Their website has some key dates and those include an effort to reach the homeless population at the end of March. The whole thing kicks off in a big way on April 1.

Young people matter
According to a release, the big push this year is getting young people to participate.

More than half of the 18- to 24-year-olds in the U.S. live with their parents and will be counted in their parents' home. They're the reliable ones.

The other 45 percent — dubbed by the U.S. Census Bureau as "young and mobile" — live on their own or with roommates, and tend to be unmarried and renters.

Many have moved so frequently that surveys and mailings from the Census Bureau may never reach them. Even if census takers can track them down, it's frequently in multiunit buildings with locked gates or lobbies. Even if census takers can get past the gates, these elusive young people are often out and about.

The "young and mobile" group is made up of the youngest Millennials born at the tail end of their generation, but is primarily the oldest members of Generation Z, IE born after 1996.

According to a survey, more than 39 percent of these slacker youths say they're not familiar with the 2020 Census. More than 18 percent say they're unlikely to respond.

Reaching the digital generation
Internet Self-Response is one of several census operational features the Census Bureau will use to hunt them down.

There's going to be a paid advertising campaign — based on survey and focus group research into barriers, attitudes, and motivators for census participation — to reach them in places they frequent online.

They'll also use social media, and will recruit applicants on college campuses to fill the 500,000 temporary positions they'll need to count everyone in the United States.

Why they should care
The release says that participating will help shape their future. To wit:

  • The count will determine how many seats each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • It will inform the distribution of billions of dollars a year in federal funding for public programs that many young adults value, including pedestrian-friendly urban development and public transit.
  • It also informs funding for Pell Grants — the federal student-aid program many low-income young adults rely on to finance their higher education. More than 7.5 million students without a bachelor’s degree were projected to receive the grants in fiscal year 2018, according to the Congressional Budget Office.