The upcoming U.S. Census will take a snapshot of America’s population on April 1, 2020.
The census is required by the constitution to take place every 10 years and will count all the people living in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories (American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands), not just all the people who are U.S. citizens.
This go-round, we’re told the census questionnaire will be handled by way of the traditional knock-on-the-door visit to a home. There also will be self-response opportunities by mail, phone and, for the first time, online.
The results will determine the distribution of legislative seats for representation on the national level and draw lines for congressional and state legislative districts. They also will determine how much federal money is distributed to each state during the next 10 years. So there will be impacts on hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads and more based on the data to be collected.
The tally for 2020 may turn out to be a mixed bag for some. While it is understood that the census is for counting every citizen, it also will include an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, which will skew benefits. This is especially true since the future of the undocumented population is yet to be resolved and final determinations could end up shrinking that number, possibly within the next 10 years. So, one could argue that the final census count could turn out to be inflated, perhaps by several million people, for those future congressional seats and federal funds to be doled out to states. Maybe not such a bad thing, but would it be fair and equitable?
Others argue that there will be an undercount of the people residing here. Many non-citizens, especially the undocumented, may be frightened about their being “outed” and subject to persecution if they participate, even though there will be no citizenship question on the census questionnaire.
But a complete and accurate count is critical for a community, advises the U.S. Census Bureau, noting that governments, businesses, communities and nonprofits all rely on the results to make critical decisions. Bottom line, these are budget amounts.
Donald Cooper, a census partnership specialist out of the Denver office serving as the Fort Bend County liaison, said an under-count would mean that states and local governments would receive lesser shares of about $675 billion in federal money that is now distributed on the basis of state populations. So, there’s a lot at stake.
Last week Cooper addressed the Sugar Land Rotary Club at the Sweetwater Country Club. He emphasized the need to have everyone counted “in the right place and it’s only once.” During the last census in 2010, Cooper said Texas received four more legislative seats. Additional gains, estimated to be about three, appear to be in store for the state.
Recruitment and hiring for the massive endeavor has now begun, and about 500,000 census takers will be hired nationwide.
Heads up: There will be scammers and fraudulent attempts relating to the census effort. But, here’s what will not be requested: your social security number, money or donations, or anything on behalf of a political party.
Keep in mind that data is for dollars. So be civic-minded and participate in the 2020 census.