Before The Count, Census Workers Check Addresses

Sep 3, 2019

Although the 2020 Census is months away, census workers are getting a head start by travelling the state to update the Census Bureau’s address list. Workers in Iowa and across the country are going to hundreds of neighborhoods looking for new housing developments and apartment buildings, or old ones that may have been torn down.

Besides counting the population, the Census is used to redraw Congressional maps and to allocate nearly 700 billion dollars in federal funding. According to Census Bureau spokesperson Sam Fettig, that makes it important to not only count everyone, “but that we count them in the right place so that those federal dollars go to the correct school districts or the correct road construction projects and so that representative boundaries reflect the people living in those districts.”

The process of updating the bureau’s address list begins with reports from the U.S. Postal Service and local governments, Fettig said, but about 35 percent of addresses nationwide will be visited in-person to review the accuracy of that data and to watch for properties that were missed.

“We’ve got census workers hired locally in Iowa checking to see, is there a new apartment building that’s been constructed here? Has this house been torn down? Just making sure that our list of addresses is full and complete,” Fettig said.

Address canvassing is one of three major projects underway in preparation for the 2020 Census. The bureau is also busy hiring thousands more workers to conduct the census and is raising awareness with local governments and nonprofits to help get a more complete count.