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U.S. Census Bureau to Resume Field Data Collection in the Island Areas

Release Number CB20-CN.52

MAY 22, 2020 – The U.S. Census Bureau is reopening offices in American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands in preparation for resuming operations for the 2020 Island Areas Censuses. Island Areas census workers are set to resume contacting every household or living quarters to conduct an in-person interview around June 1.

The reopening follows suspension of field data collection activities in line with directives by the governor of each of the Island Areas that took place on March 16 for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, March 18 in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and on March 23 in American Samoa in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the suspension, the 2020 Island Areas Censuses began counting the population in early March.

The Census Bureau coordinated with Island Areas counterparts to assess their readiness to reopen each office and the feasibility of resuming field operations.  All census work will incorporate the most current guidance to promote the health and safety of census staff and the public.

Paper-Based, In-Person Interviews for the Island Areas

The 2020 Island Areas Censuses are paper-based with census workers conducting in-person interviews. The Island Areas use a longer, more detailed questionnaire than the stateside questionnaire. The purpose of this “long form” is to collect detailed characteristics on social, economic, and housing data in the Island Areas. Therefore, the deployment of the “short form” online questionnaire used for stateside operations is not viable for the Island Areas.

About the 2020 Island Areas Censuses

The 2020 Island Areas Censuses collect socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of the population and housing for American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These censuses are required by the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 2) and occur once every 10 years.

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, please visit

No news release associated with this announcement. Tip Sheet only.



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