US Census Bureau begins canvassing, verifying addresses across the country ahead of 2020 census

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The U.S. Census Bureau is kicking off its first major field operation, dispatching tens of thousands of employees on the ground to knock on doors.

About 40,000 so-called “listers” will canvas neighborhoods across the country to verify addresses ahead of the massive census mailing expected to be sent out early next year.

“Our goal at the Census Bureau is to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place,” said Deirdre Bishop, chief of the Census Bureau’s Geography Division. 

Ten years ago, she said the agency hired 150,000 listers to canvas neighborhoods across the country. For the 2020 census, they were able to use satellite technology and mapping to verify 65 percent of addresses.

“We’ve validated over 106 million addresses in our database,” she noted.

The listers are trained to knock on every door to verify the address and ask about additional units within each residence. They will also manage to get an accurate count of those hard-to-tally whereabouts, like nursing homes, shelters, colleges and prisons.

“We’ll make a phone call to each one of these places to ask if they would like to be enumerated,” Bishop added.

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Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham said part of the technological verification process includes blocking certain software. 

“A lot of efficiencies are being made,” he added, “and we think this will be the most efficient census ever.”

To help residents easily identify address listers, they will be wearing badges and briefcases indicating their affiliation with the Census Bureau. 

The official census effort will kick off in January in remote locations, but most households will get their first postcard mailing in March 2020.

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