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2020 vision

The Census Bureau wants 'somebody like LeBron James' to reach anti-phone and mail millennials

The Census Bureau is trying to figure out how to reach millennials who don't use the mail or answer the phone, and they'd love LeBron James' help.

A Wednesday report from report from Pew explains that the bureau is expecting to have trouble reaching young people in 2020, and they're "aware that young urban renters are less likely than they were in 2010 to communicate by mail, by phone or with strangers at the door." To combat this, the bureau is "developing social media and other internet publicity" so that millennials can take the census online.

Part of the problem, the report explains, is that the bureau used to mail respondents a physical form and then follow up by visiting in person or calling a landline phone. But Pew notes that the majority of people between the age of 25 and 34 don't even have a landline they can be reached at, and many said they don't check their mail.

"Mail? I feel like that's a dead thing," a 36-year-old Washington, D.C. resident told Pew. "And I don't have a lot of people randomly knocking at my front door, so I would be a little weirded out. 'Census Bureau!' It sounds like a joke. It sounds like you just want me to open my door. So I probably wouldn't." Other complications include millennials who have several roommates and don't want to answer "household" questions, and little understanding of why the census matters.

Posting the census online should hopefully help in 2020, and the census' communications chief told Pew that having a celebrity promote them wouldn't hurt, either. He explained, "Somebody like LeBron James could say, 'It's halftime! Pull out your phones, and let's answer the census!" Read more at Pew.