Census takers will soon be knocking on doors of those who have not filled out forms. Here’s what to expect

In less than a week, census takers will begin knocking on local doors to ensure Minnesotans complete the 2020 census.

The census occurs once every 10 years, however protocols and timelines had to be changed this year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The census is a count of everyone in the United States and where they live. It determines where federal funding is allocated, such as schools, roads and other resources. It also plays a crucial role in how many congressional seats states are allotted and how much representation communities get.

“Census data really does affect everyone in our community, so we want to make sure that we get a complete count of everyone who does live here,” said Sam Fettig, Minnesota partnership coordinator with the U.S. Census Bureau.

The census has been available for the public to self-respond to since mid-March. As of July 28, Minnesota had a self-response rate of 72.1 percent — the highest in the country. For those who have still not completed the census form, workers will begin knocking on doors in Minneapolis on Aug. 6, and throughout the rest of the state starting on Aug. 11, but with some new guidelines.

Census takers were supposed to be already finishing up coming to people’s doors. The original timeline for door knocking to take place was from May until the end of July. This timeline has now shifted to Aug. 11 to Oct. 31 due to the pandemic. The original deadline to complete the census was July 31, but that has also been extended to Oct. 31.

According to the Pew Research Center, four in 10 people say they won’t answer the door to a Census taker. If someone still won’t respond to the Census or can’t be reached in person, census takers will ask a proxy, such as a neighbor or landlord, to help complete the survey. Occasionally, the U.S. Census Bureau uses statistical techniques to fill in gaps.


The census taker will be wearing a mask. The U.S. Census Bureau is not requiring residents to wear masks, but residents are encouraged to do what makes them most comfortable, and can wear a mask if they wish.

The census taker will also maintain a distance of at least six feet from the resident. The entire process will take place outside the resident’s home. All census takers will have completed online training on how to maintain proper social distancing, Fettig said.

“We want to protect the health and safety both of our employees and of the public,” Fettig said.

If the resident does not speak English, some census takers speak other languages, like Spanish. If the census taker does not speak the resident’s language, they will try to connect the resident with a census staff member who speaks their language or provide them with resources and guides to complete the census.

The lack of some languages that the census is offered in such as Somali and Hmong has been a concern of Minnesota community members.


Residents should be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • Who lives in the household, what are their dates of birth and what are their relationships with each other?
  • Is the resident a renter, or do they own the property?
  • What is the race and ethnicity of everyone who lives in the household?
  • What languages do the residents speak?

Some residents such as undocumented immigrants may be apprehensive to give information to the government. However, all information that is collected by the U.S. Census Bureau is confidential, Fettig said. The information won’t be shared with other federal agencies, law enforcement or landlords.

“It’ll only be used for producing these statistics that guide really important decisions that affect everyone in our community, regardless of citizenship status,” Fettig said.


  • The deadline to self-respond is Oct. 31.
  • The census can be filled out online at 2020Census.gov
  • It can also be completed via phone by calling 844-330-2020. Phone lines are open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m.
  • Households that have not yet responded online or by phone have also received a paper questionnaire in the mail.


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