2020 census

Be sure to fill out the U.S. Census with your Michigan residence.

Hi, there, all you snowbirds! If you are a Michigan resident who is away for the season — or less than six months — this is for you.

The 2020 Census is coming. You should be getting a piece of mail from the Census Bureau any day now, if it hasn’t arrived already. The Census is used to decide how many members of Congress go to each state — a process called reapportionment. It’s also used to form the Congressional districts, legislative districts and county commissioner districts within Michigan — a process called redistricting.

Census results are also used in calculating the distribution of over $675 billion in federal funding. It’s critical that Michigan get its fair share of that funding pot. That means that we need to have everyone who resides in Michigan counted in Michigan. If you live in Michigan for at least six months a year, you are a Michigan resident. You need to make sure you get included in the Census that way.

How can you do that? This month, you will receive mailings with instructions for how to participate in the Census online. You can use a computer, a tablet or your phone to do that. You’ll get a mailing at your home address and likely at your seasonal address, as well (if it’s in the U.S.). Each of these mailings will include a 12-digit Census ID code. When you go to the website, it will ask you to enter that code. When you do, you’ll see the address on the screen.

You don’t physically have to be in Michigan to respond to the census as a Michigan resident. You can respond regardless of where you are when you sign onto the online system. If you have the mailing that was sent to your home address, fill out the form at my2020census.gov. The questions are similar to those you answered on a paper questionnaire 10 years ago.

Patricia C. Becker

If you have only the mailing with the 12-digit Census ID code that came to your winter address, you can go to my2020census.gov and enter that code. Your seasonal address will show on the screen. On the first question, enter zero (0) for the number of people at that address, because there’s no one who lives there “most of the time.” Most, in this context, means more than half the year.

After confirming that you mean to enter zero, the online system will take you to a question about why no one will be living there on April 1. You can then mark the circle “for seasonal, recreational or occasional use.” The system will then ask you for another address, at which point you can provide your Michigan address and answer the census that way, either providing the 12-digit Census ID code or entering your actual address.

So, there are two ways to make sure you respond to the census as a Michigan resident. Easy, no?

If you’ve already responded to the census with your winter home’s census ID, try to do it again using your Michigan Census ID.

The Census Bureau has ways of finding the duplication and fixing it.

If you don’t want to use the computer to respond to the census, you can call the number provided in the mailing. From there, you can either respond by telephone or you can ask for a paper questionnaire. If you don’t do anything, you’ll be nudged with repeated mailings. If you’ve done nothing by mid-April, they’ll mail you a paper questionnaire.

If you still don’t do anything, current plans call for a census worker to come to your door, starting in May. (The coronavirus emergency, however, could mean that those plans will change.) You’ll probably be home in Michigan by then. Having a census worker come costs the government a lot of money, so it’s better if you can take the initiative and respond to the census yourself online, by phone or by receiving and returning a paper questionnaire.

It’s important that everyone who considers Michigan home answer the census as a Michigan resident. Every person counted in Michigan means additional thousands of dollars in federal support for infrastructure and for social programs. Make sure you and your family are counted as part of our Michigan population.

Patricia C. Becker is a demographer in private practice with Southfield-based APB Associates, her consulting company.