Although the census does not take place until 2010, census operations (including recruitment, address canvassing, a partnership program, and a communications campaign) began in November 2008. Below is a timeline of major census operations leading up to Census Day - April 1, 2010 - and follow-up.
- Fall 2008: Recruitment begins for local census jobs for early census operations.
- November 2008: 150 early local census offices open.
- April – July 2009: Address canvassing - Census workers go door to door to update address list nationwide. Census Bureau updates address file and maps to include shelters, soup kitchens, and mobile food vans for service-based enumeration.
- Fall 2009: Recruitment begins for census takers in 2010. Remaining 344 local census offices open.
Filling out the census form
- January 2010: Enumeration of remote Alaskan communities takes place using a method by which census takers verify and develop address lists and enumerate households at the same time as they go door to door.
- February 2010: Letters are mailed in advance primarily to rural and remote areas and tribal reservations.
- February – April 2010: Questionnaire Assistance Centers open.
- February – July 2010: Telephone Questionnaire Assistance is operational - toll-free lines offer assistance in answering questions about the Census and take requests for assistance in over 50 languages.
- March 8-10, 2010: Letters are mailed to all remaining homes in the nation, alerting residents that census forms will be arriving soon.
- March 16-17, 2010: Census forms are delivered to most homes by the Postal Service.
- March 19-April 19, 2010: “Be Counted" census questionnaires, available in 6 languages, are available in pre-selected, public places, such as post offices, libraries, convenience stores, and community centers to make participation in the census as easy as possible.
- March 22-24, 2010: Postcards are sent to all households reminding them to return the census form by April 1, 2010, Census Day.
- March 29-21, 2010: Service-based enumeration is conducted for pre-identified sites where people without a usual place of residence live, sleep, or eat, such as soup kitchens, homeless shelters, outdoor locations, shelters for abused women, etc.
- March 2010: For some rural or remote areas, parts of the Gulf Coast areas hit by the hurricanes, and tribal reservations, the Census Bureau sends enumerators to verify addresses and drop-off questionnaires or collect information on the spot.
- April 1, 2010: Census Day.
- April 1-8, 2010: Census Bureau mails replacement forms to every home from which a completed census form has not yet been received.
- April – May 2010: Group quarters enumeration takes place.
NonResponse Followup (NRFU)
- May – July 2010: Census workers visit all addresses that did not mail back a census questionnaire and collect information at the door. During peak operations, 600,000 census takers will go door to door to follow up with households that have not responded to the mailing. The Census Bureau estimates that more than a third of addresses will not mail back a form.
- Late April – August 2010: Coverage follow-up - Telephone call centers contact households with more than six occupants and those whose forms indicate that someone may have been included or excluded erroneously to collect missing information, clarify information, and ensure that hard-to-count households are accurately counted.
Wrap-up of 2010 Census
- August – October 2010: Census Coverage Measurement survey will estimate how many people were missed or counted twice during the direct counting operations. Estimates of accuracy will be published in 2012.
- December 2010: Census Bureau reports state population totals to the President for apportionment purposes.
- March 2011: Census Bureau completes delivery of redistricting data to states.