Dear Crabby, Is the Census Still Relevant?

Dear Crabby,

I keep seeing reminders regarding the upcoming 2020 census. Do people really still take part in this? I guess I’ve never really understood why it was so important to participate. Can you help me out?

Noah Nombre

Dear Noah Nombre,

The short answer is yes. People really do still take part in the census. It’s almost as old as the United States itself. The first census was taken on August 2, 1790. And before you ask, the answer is no. No, I wasn’t around to answer any questions back then. Since the U.S. was still a young, whippersnapper of a country, I imagine there weren’t as many questions being asked as there are today. Unfortunately, given the times, one of the questions asked most certainly related to how many slaves a household owned. It’s not pretty, but it is history. Over 200 years later, the one part of the census that hasn’t changed is you have to participate. In fact, the head count has already started in Toksook Bay, Alaska.

Dear Crabby sits infront of his laptop

Dear Crabby Gives Advice

The U.S. Census Bureau likes to start early by physically visiting some of the most remote areas first. Just how remote is Toksook Bay? According to Google, it’s over a thousand miles away from Alaska’s capital Juneau. At the time of the last census in 2010, it had just under 600 residents. For those of us who live in more populated areas, we’ll receive a request to take the 2020 census online. That’s right! All you introverts can rejoice. The 2020 census will be the first to allow all U.S. households to respond online. You can even call a 1-800 number and take it over the phone. Ain’t technology great? That being said, if you don’t respond to any of these ‘invitations,’ they will continue to pester you until you do. So, if you don’t want someone knocking on your door during your precious Wheel of Fortune time, I suggest you just fill out the census the first time you’re asked.

Now the Census Bureau includes every person living in the U.S. — regardless of citizenship or immigration status. I know some people have a bee in their bonnet regarding anyone illegal being included in the census, but it is what it is. They’ll even find a way to include deployed troops, college students, anyone incarcerated, and folks displaced by natural disasters or have unique living situations (whatever those may be). Mrs. Crabby loves the census because she’s into all the genealogy stuff. If it weren’t for census records, she’d have a devil of a time trying to track down her ancestors. She offered to do the same for me, but I prefer to leave my skeletons in the closet – right where I can keep an eye on them. Even if you’re not using the census records to see if you’re related to someone famous, they are quite useful for a number of other reasons.

First, I probably don’t have to remind you this is an election year. But I just did anyway so you can’t claim ignorance. One of the things the census numbers determine is the number of congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets. The 2020 population numbers will also influence how federal tax dollars are shared in the U.S over the next 10 years. Speaking of money, the census acts as a guide on how an estimated $880 billion a year in federal funding will be distributed for things like schools, roads, and other public services local communities tend to like to have around. I hope those reasons answer your question as to why it’s so important to participate in taking the 2020 census. If you still have any burning questions and are local, the City of Rochester Hills is hosting an event on Monday, February 10 to talk more about how the census impacts our little corner of the world.

So, keep your eyes peeled for your notification. As for me, if anyone comes knocking on my door, I’ll have my new favorite porch sign out waiting that reads: “We’re Broke. We’ve found Jesus. We know who we’re voting for. So unless you’ve got free Girl Scout cookies, go away!”

Dear Crabby

About Dear Crabby

Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at


  1. Love your porch sign! Where do I get one?

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