PITTSBURG — Next week will mark the start of the 2020 Census. Every 10 years, the U.S. government conducts a count of the population of all 50 states, as mandated by the Constitution. The results impact everything from infrastructure funding to the number of representatives each state gets in Congress.


“The Census Bureau is using the internet to securely collect your information,” the agency notes in a letter it will soon be sending out. “Responding online helps us conserve natural resources, save taxpayer money, and process data more efficiently. If you are unable to complete your 2020 Census questionnaire online, we will send you a paper questionnaire in a few weeks for you to complete and mail back.”


The letter will include an ID number that is tied to respondents’ physical address. People are then encouraged to go online with the ID number to respond to the Census. They can also respond over the phone or wait for a paper form to arrive in a few weeks.


“The census is so important that your response is required by law, and your answers are kept


completely confidential,” the letter notes.


On or between March 12 and March 20, 95 percent of households will receive the letter asking them to respond online to the 2020 Census, according to the Census Bureau. Some households will also receive paper questionnaires.


Of the remaining 5 percent of households — in areas such as those in which most households use PO boxes or which have been recently affected by natural disasters — most will receive their census invitation when a census taker drops it off.


Less than one percent of households will be counted in person by a census taker. This is done in very remote areas like parts of northern Maine, remote Alaska, and in select American Indian areas that ask to be counted in person, according to the Census Bureau.


From March 16 to 24 most households that have not yet responded to the census will receive a reminder letter. From March 26 to April 3 they will receive a reminder postcard. From April 8 to 16 they will receive a reminder letter and paper questionnaire. From April 20 to 27 they will receive a final reminder postcard before the Census Bureau follows up in person.