Along with the thousands of temporary workers hired to help with survey collection, the US Census Bureau has asked local communities to form "Complete Count Committees" to help reach residents who are traditionally "hard to count." Complete Count Committees work with local organizations and the media to inform residents about Census 2020, encourage participation, and ensure survey success.
Thurston Regional Planning Council is coordinating the Thurson Region Complete Count Committee here in Thurston County.
About the 2020 Census
What is the Census?
The US Constitution requires that each decade we take a count - or census - of America's population. But it's more than just a number - the census provides vital information for us and our communities. The data is used:
to determine how many representatives each state gets in Congress and is used to redraw district boundaries.
to distribute more than $675 billion in federal funds to local communities each year
by communities to plan for a variety of resident needs including new roads, schools, and emergency services.
Why it matters.
Hospitals. Fire departments. Schools. Even roads and highways. The census can shape many different aspects of our community. Each year, the results help determine how more than $675 billion in federal funding is distributed to states and communities.
Any community or part of it that the 2020 Census fails to count will not be part of many policy and money decisions that will be made in the next 10 years.
For example, 2015 estimates are that Washington may have lost close to $2,000 of federal funds for every individual not counted in 2010. We need an accurate count to make sure the way our tax dollars are divided is:
By April 2020, households will receive an invitation to participate in the census. You'll then have three options to respond:
by phone, or
April 1, 2020 is Census Day and will be marked with events across the country. This is a key date for the 2020 count - when completing the census, you'll note where you are living on April 1.
Policymaking, budget decision-making, and planning
Federal, state, and local government agencies rely on census data for planning and delivering education, economic development and employment, health, and transportation services. In FY2015, Washington state received $13 billion just from 16 of the largest federal assistance programs that distribute funds based on census data. It is estimated that 300 federal program allocate funds based on census-derived statistics.
But, it is not just governments that use census data to plan, budget, and make policy:
Businesses use the census to decide where to build factories, offices and stores, which creates jobs.
Developers use the census to build new homes and revitalize old neighborhoods.
Local governments use the census for public safety and emergency preparedness.
Transportation planners use the census to decide on public transit routes.
Citizen organizations rely on census data to identify community needs, request and fund programs, monitor trends and assess program effectiveness.
Residents use the census to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality-of-life and consumer advocacy.
New technology may increase challenges for a complete count
In 2020, the Census Bureau plans to use the internet as the primary mode of self-response for the first time. Other cost-cutting measures include introducing “big data” solutions (e.g., GIS mapping, on-line personnel management methods, and administrative records) to replace more resource-intensive address, training, and non-response follow-up canvassing. While certain groups have typically been hard-to-count communities, the new and largely untested innovations increase the potential to omit residents where housing has grown or changed, to overlook those with less computer literacy or broadband access, and to undercount young children, minorities, low-income individuals and other marginalized individuals.