Why the 2020 Census is Important
The Constitution calls for a count of the entire population every 10 years. This idea wasn’t something new though. The ancient Babylonians, Chinese, Egyptians, and Romans all conducted censuses, long before our first census in 1790. However, the United States was one of the first modern countries to count all of its citizens and not just a particular group, like military-age males. It was also the first country to constitutionally mandate a regular census and the first to use it for apportioning political power. To this day, the number of seats each state holds in the House of Representatives depends entirely on census results.
Why is it important? There are a few different reasons.
- It’s part of your civic duty. The Constitution requires that every person in the United States be counted, and it’s the only time that everyone is counted!
- It’s about fair representation. The results are used to reapportion the House of Representatives, determining how many seats each state gets; which also impacts how many electoral votes each state has in the presidential elections.
- Redistricting effects all of us. State officials redraw the boundaries of the congressional and state legislative districts in their states to account for population shifts. School districts will also redraw their boundaries if needed.
- Funding is vital. Money is spent on schools, hospitals, roads, public works, local communities, and other vital programs.
- Grant success. Census data is used throughout local communities and other non-profits to secure vital grant funding.
The distribution of more than $675 billion in federal funds, grants, and support to states, counties, and communities is based on census data. That’s a lot of money that funds vital programs such as the National School Lunch Program, Head Start, highway planning and construction, Community Development Block Grants, Medicaid, Medicare (Part B), State Children’s Health Insurance Program, Unemployment Insurance Administration, Foster Care and adoption assistance, Tax credit programs, and many more.
The census data is also used a great deal at the local level. Residents use the data to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality-of-life, and consumer advocacy. Businesses use the data to decide where to build factories, offices, and stores – which ultimately create new jobs. Real estate developers use the data to decide where to build new homes, or which areas may need more senior housing / memory care facilities. Municipalities use it for many things, including public safety and emergency preparedness, and to determine if staffing levels for firefighters and police officers are adequate for the current population.
What about privacy? Did you know that there is more information on your driver’s license than what you’ll answer in the decennial census? Staff with the U.S. Census Bureau take a lifetime oath to protect your information – violations come with a penalty of up to $250,000 and/or up to 5 years in prison. They cannot release any identifiable information, not to law enforcement agencies, and not even to the President. Information collected may only be used for statistical purposes, and it cannot be publicly released in any way that could identify you or your household.
Taking the census is beneficial to all of those in our community; it sets the stage for the next 10 years! It’s only 9 questions and should take less than 10 minutes to complete (especially since you can respond online this year!). Remember to count everyone in your household, once and only once, from the youngest to the oldest. Everyone counts!
Visit my2020census.gov or call (844) 330-2020 to complete your census today.