For most of us, we either haven’t devoted much thought to the 2020 Census or we’ve thought about it but it isn’t high on the list of concerns. Under typical circumstances, it would be fair to say that many people don’t consider the census important and with the issues surrounding COVID 19, that is particularly true.
Though it takes a little time and effort, it is important to respond to the census. Carrying out the census and individuals responding to it is required by law. Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution requires that a census be conducted every 10 years. When responses aren’t received, the Census Bureau sends out personnel to homes / apartments / even homeless shelters to try and ensure as complete a collection of information as possible.
COVID 19, has impacted 2020 Census operations. First, field operations were suspended for a time but resumed on May 11th in North Carolina. Field offices are still not fully staffed or operational, so the Census Bureau is still encouraging people to self-report. This can be done by mail, by phone or online. Second, due to COVID 19, the deadline to respond has been extended to October 31, 2020.
Okay so, it’s required by law but you’re probably wondering what benefit there is to you, your state or community for you to respond. The information gathered in the census impacts many facets of our existence. The information is used to determine how many seats each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives; sometimes it is also used to help draw congressional and state legislative districts. Census information determines how federal dollars are spent locally, for example, the data helps determine where money for new roads, hospitals, fire departments and schools is needed. Through the information gathered, the federal government decides where funding for family services, the elderly, Medicaid, Head Start and SNAP should be increased or decreased.
Census statistics determine how much federal grant money is allocated for teachers in states/communities and how much money is allocated to special education programs. Natural disaster planning also draws on census particulars. These are some significant examples of the importance of census data but is by no means a comprehensive list. The Census Bureau has compiled a report with more specifics here. Business owners also rely on census information in deciding where to build new factories, stores, and restaurants and also what goods and services best fit with the population in a given area.
If you haven’t already done so, we would encourage you to complete the census questionnaire. You may do so online on the Census Bureau’s website. The site also has information about completing the questionnaire over the phone. Should you have any questions or concerns about the census, the Census Bureau has employees ready to assist you.