Census 2020


Upstate counties and cities are competing to achieve the best U.S. Census response rate before Census volunteers come knocking.  The goal of the US Census Bureau's “PUSH Week” is to increase participation in the 2020 Census.  

Katie Zilcosky / WAER News

The 2020 census is officially underway with the first person in the country being counted in rural Alaska. But people in the Syracuse area won’t have census takers on snow mobiles coming to their door. Instead, they’ll be asked to fill out the census digitally for the first time in history. And libraries expect to play a big role in our area, where a quarter of residents don’t have internet access at home.


The holiday honoring Doctor Martin Luther King Junior might be a good time to focus on hearing every voice by getting a complete census count.  That’s exactly what Governor Andrew Cuomo said when announcing more funding support for the census here in New York – evoking King’s legacy.

“He was one of America’s great voices in terms of freedom, justice and equality, as you all know.  He devoted his life to expanding voter rights to make sure that every voice was heard, that every voice counts.”

Karen DeWitt / WXXI News

A state commission to oversee the 2020 census count for New York State adopted its action plan Tuesday. But immigrant rights groups worry that it’s too little, too late.

Katie Zilcosky / WAER News

Two growing populations in Central New York, new Americans and the elderly, are also typically undercounted in the census. The amount of federal dollars the area will receive depends on an accurate count of these populations.


Syracuse and Onondaga County officials are trying to find the best way to get as thorough a census count as possible.  They announced the area’s Complete Count Committee on Wednesday.  It will utilize community groups to try and encourage participation in neighborhoods or among demographic groups that are usually hard to count. 


The Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling in the final days of June that keeps the citizenship question off of the 2020 Census. While Census Bureau research shows that a citizenship question could significantly reduce response rates, it’s only one of many groups that are at risk of being undercounted.


There’s growing concern that the lack of high-speed internet access among low income urban and rural households, immigrants, and other minority populations might leave them undercounted in the upcoming census.  That’ll be the focus of a summit Wednesday hosted by the Central New York Digital Inclusion Coalition.  Co-chair and director of the LaFayette Public Library Scott Kushner says the census bureau will start by sending postcards that direct residents to a website. 

Andrew Taylor / via Flickr

The physical distribution of the Census in Syracuse won’t start until April of next year, but planning for the count is starting now. The 2020 census is mixed up in a Supreme Court case over a citizenship question and faces the challenge of being the first primarily digital census count.