2020 might seem like a long ways away, but preparations have already begun to mobilize hundreds of millions of Americans across the country for Census 2020. The Census is a tool outlined in the Constitution and conducted every ten years as a means to track changes in population density across the United States. Information collected from the Census plays a vital role in bringing appropriate funding to the essential needs of our communities; things we depend on every single day like schools, hospitals, roadways, and public work projects. Social entitlement programs like Medicaid that are powered by federal funding are allocated dollars based on the population reported per-capita.
Additionally, the census plays a role in ensuring the congressional districts are represented equally. The information collected from the census influences boundary decisions Congress makes in redrawing federal, state and local legislative districts. It also helps support the growth of businesses who can use the information in the census to expand and develop their markets, which in turn creates jobs and boosts local investment. Because it’s only issued every ten years, the census is a significant determinant in affecting how communities grow in the coming decade.
However, one of the major challenges when it comes to the Census is enlisting everyone in a community to participate. Despite being a constitutional duty, decade after decade there remains a huge gap of under-reported populations scattered throughout the United States. Consequently, it’s often times the under reported regions that are in need of funding the most. Data presented by the Census Bureau for 2010 states that for every person not counted, local governments could lose nearly $3,000 in per-capita funding. When there’s only 56% of the community reporting, like in areas of Northeast DC, this number adds up—fast.
While the percentages of total turn out vary from region to region, the reasons behind low census participation remain stagnant and persist. A lot of people simply do not know what the census is and why their participation is important. There remains a huge misconception when it comes to the privacy of information recorded in the census. Under federal law no information taken from the census can be used to identify you or anyone in your household—that legal framework prevents any government or private agency from accessing the information you share.
In 2020, participating in the Census will be easier than ever with the added option to report into the census online. Through the Census 2020 website, users will have the ability to complete the census through an online portal. As part of an ongoing effort, United Way of the National Capital Area will make updates to our website with key information pertaining to the census and how we’re helping #GetOutTheCount. Join us as we ensure that everyone in our community is able to be counted in 2020. Join us in LIVING UNITED.