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U.S. Census Bureau is getting its ducks in a row before the 10-year count begins in earnest in January

COURTESY OF THE STATE LIBRARY OF OREGON - #OregonCounts2020The first major field operation of the U.S. Census Bureau recently got underway as employees known as "listers" have begun walking through neighborhoods to check and verify addresses.

The job is an essential one for ascertaining all addresses, however there will be fewer listers than there were 10 years ago due to some new technology.COURTESY OF THE US CENSUS BUREAU - US Census Bureau logo

The Bureau announced in August that it created a new software dubbed "Block Assessment, Research and Classification Application" (BARCA) that compares satellite images of the U.S. over time. That allows census workers to identify housing development, changes to existing homes and other previously non-existing housing units.

Workers can also compare current images with the number of addresses on file for a given block.

"We were able to verify 65% of addresses using satellite imagery — a massive accomplishment for us," said Census Bureau Geography Division Chief Deirdre Bishop. "In 2010 we had to hire 150,000 people to verify 100% of the addresses in the field, this decade we will only have to hire about 40,000 employees around the nation to verify the remaining 35% of addresses."

The bureau expects to have those surveyors verifying that remaining 35% out in the field through mid-October.

The bureau also stressed that listers will have official Census Bureau badges and briefcases that indicate their affiliation. They may visit residences with a few simple questions in the process of verifying addresses.

Bureau officials said this and several other activities similar to it are performed by census workers to ensure a complete and accurate count. Census Bureau partners with the U.S. Postal Service and tribal, state and local officials to update address lists.

State of Oregon sources note that 79.8% of Oregon households mailed back questionnaires for the 2010 census. Followup to count the more than 20% remaining entailed dispatching more difficult, costly in-person resourses.

 "Ultimately, the success of the census depends on everyone's participation," said Marilyn Sanders, Chicago regional director. "And it's important to remember, when you respond to the census you shape your future and the future of your community."

At a glance

The U.S. Census Bureau is the federal government's largest statistical agency, and it provides facts and figures about people, places and economy. Federal law protects the confidentiality of all individual responses.

The U.S. Constitution mandates that a population census is conducted every 10 years.

Census data is used in a variety of ways, including:

•It determines the number of seats each state holds in Congress;

•It determines how more than $675 billion in federal funds are distributed back to states and local communities every year for services and infrastructure, including health care, jobs, schools, roads and businesses;

•Communities rely on census data to plan for residents' needs, such as schools, roads, public and emergency services:

•Businesses use census data to determine where to open places to shop.

The 2020 Census officially starts counting people in January 2020 in remote Toksook Bay, Alaska. Following the count of people in remote Alaska, most households in the country will start receiving invitations to respond online, by phone or by mail in March 2020.

For information about this and other Census Bureau activity, visit

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