Census 2020

The U.S. Constitution mandates that every ten years, every person within the United States be counted in a nationwide census. The census takes place in spring 2020. The goal is to count every person living in the U.S. wherever they are living on April 1, 2020 (all ages, regardless of immigration or housing status). There are fewer public resources for outreach this time, so we encourage our communities to work together to ensure an accurate count. 

There is a lot at stake!

Completing the census will help ensure a better future for your children, more resources for your community, and a voice for you in government. Burien was undercounted by up to 25 percent in 2010. We want to make sure Burien gets a more accurate count in 2020!

South King County Low Response Census Areas

South King County and 2010 Census Tracts

 ​Photo Credit: King County

The Census is used to determine how federal funds are distributed to communities like Burien; how we are represented in Olympia and Washington, D.C.; and how your city government can best serve the community. Federal funds get distributed based on the information collected by the Census. These funds go to support our local human service organizations, schools, roads, hospitals, and more. Businesses and nonprofits also use census data to decide where to target growth, create jobs, and offer services. In addition, local governments like the City of Burien and King County use the data for planning and safety. Residents can also use the data to support our community through neighborhood projects. Policymakers use the data to set legislative districts that determine how all of us are represented in Olympia and Washington, D.C.

The census offers a unique opportunity to be counted and shape our community’s future. This opportunity comes once every ten years, so make sure you plan to get counted in 2020.

What to Expect

For the first time ever, the government will be requesting that households respond to the Census online. In the near future, your household will be receiving a notice from the U.S. Census Bureau that contains instructions for completing the survey. Please look out for the letter and keep it so that you can participate. Here’s what to expect when the next Census starts in 2020.

  • You will receive a letter of invitation from the U.S. Census Bureau to respond online or an invitation to complete the paper questionnaire.
  • Most communities in the country will be encouraged to respond online.
  • Communities that are less likely to respond online will receive a paper questionnaire in addition to targeted outreach.
  • Households that do not respond online will receive an in-person follow-up. Census personnel will wear clear identification that they work for the U.S. Census.


January – March 2019: The U.S. Census Bureau opens 39 area census offices.

June – September 2019: The Census Bureau opens the remaining 209 area census offices. The offices support and manage the census takers who work all over the country to conduct the census.

August 2019: The Census Bureau conducts the in-field address canvassing operation. Census takers visit areas that have added or lost housing in recent years to ensure that the Census Bureau's address list is up to date. The 2020 Census will be the first modern census that doesn’t verify every address in person, on the ground. Instead, satellite imagery, U.S. Postal Service, and other current records will verify most addresses, and will highlight areas where census workers need to verify in-person.

January 2020: The Census Bureau begins counting the population in remote Alaska.

March 2020:​ Households receive an invitation to respond to the 2020 Census. Some households will also receive paper questionnaire.

April 1, 2020: Census Day is observed nationwide. By this date, households will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. There are three options for responding: online, by mail, or by phone.

April 2020: Census takers begin following up with households around selected colleges and universities. Census takers also begin conducting quality check interviews.

May 2020: The Census Bureau begins following up with households that have not responded.

December 2020: The Census Bureau delivers apportionment counts to the president.


We know many of you may feel nervous or uncomfortable about supplying information to the government. However, it is important for all of us to remember that long-standing laws are in-place to prevent the misuse of data, and we would be happy to share additional information with you about how data will be protected. 

Under Title 13 of the U.S. Code, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about individuals, households, or business, even to law agencies. Information collected can only be collected to produce statistics. Every Census Bureau employee takes an oath to protect your personal information for life. Violations come with a penalty of up to $250,000 and/or up to five years in prison. Learn more about the Census’s commitment to data protection and privacy program at www.census.gov/privacy

How can I help?

There are several ways you can help ensure Burien gets a complete count:

  • Encourage your friends and family to fill out the census.
  • Post a Census flyer in a location where your community gathers (church, mosque, hair salon, etc.)
  • Want to do more? Contact Emily Inlow-Hood at communications@burienwa.gov.