Census Barriers, Attitudes, and Motivators (CBAMS) Reports Released

The U.S. Census Bureau released the results of the Census Barriers, Attitudes, and Motivators Study (CBAMS). The reports are the result of a national survey and a series of focus groups designed to provide insight into public perception of the upcoming 2020 Census. For state and local partners, the reports are important for two primary reasons: 1) the findings can help communities working on complete count efforts to identify potential barriers to participation and, 2) identify and implement strategies most effective at bolstering response rates.


Some highlights of the two reports include:

  • Many people were unfamiliar with the census, with only 33 percent being “extremely” or “very” familiar. Knowledge about the purpose and process of the census was uneven across groups.

  • Funding for public services was a top motivator across groups, yet less than half of respondents knew that the census is used to determine community funding.

  • Messaging is needed for how the census directly benefits local communities, now and in the future. 

  • Providing information about the Census Bureau’s data protection policies will not alone mitigate respondent concerns around privacy and confidentiality.

The full CBAMS Survey Report can be accessed here.

The full CBAMS Focus Group Report can be accessed here.

Jason Jurjevich