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The U.S. Census Bureau Begins to Count U.S. Island Areas Populations

Release Number CB20-CN.20
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MARCH 2, 2020 – The U.S. Census Bureau has begun counting people living in the U.S. territories of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands for the 2020 Census.

“We are going to great lengths to ensure that everyone, including those living in the U.S. territories, are counted in the 2020 Census,” said Census Bureau Director Dr. Steven Dillingham.

The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census of the population be conducted every 10 years. The geographic scope of the decennial census is specified in Title 13, U.S. Code as including the Island Areas.

The 2020 Island Areas Censuses are conducted in partnership with the Office of the Governor of each Island Area. Through a contract agreement, the governments of these territories are responsible for conducting the data collection activities, while the Census Bureau provides the funds, methodology, data collection instruments and materials, and IT infrastructure.

Local census takers began data collection activities last month, which includes listing addresses of all living quarters in the Island Areas followed by in-person enumeration of the households. In addition, census takers conduct interviews with people residing in group living arrangements.

In the Island Areas, the population is counted through a “long form” questionnaire, which asks detailed questions about individual and housing characteristics that allow the Census Bureau to meet specific data needs of these territories. Census takers carry two official ID badges — one from the Census Bureau and one from the local government — identifying them as 2020 Census workers.

The local governments are expected to hire up to 2,000 census workers (combined for all Island Areas) to conduct the 2020 Island Areas Censuses.

The Census Bureau also deploys on-site census advisers to serve as official Census Bureau representatives. They oversee the data collection activities, provide technical guidance to local census staff, and monitor the contract.

Population counts in these areas for the 2010 Census were:

  • American Samoa – 55,519
  • Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands – 53,883
  • Guam – 159,385
  • U.S. Virgin Islands – 106,405

To ensure awareness, each Island Area has implemented an outreach campaign that makes use of trusted voices in the community and a localized promotional campaign to ensure that everyone is aware of the importance of the 2020 Census and the need for their participation.

Responses to the 2020 Census are confidential and inform funding decisions for public services and resources such as hospitals, schools, emergency response and roads.  

For more information about the 2020 Island Areas Censuses, visit the 2020census.gov/island-areas.

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