September 16, 2020

Why is the Census important?

Reginald White Jr
GIS Technician | Data Analyst

While working at APD Urban Planning and Management I’ve learned the importance of data. The information that is captured from databases like the American Community Survey and U.S Census serves as the base in guiding our recommendations on how to improve communities. Although the U.S Census Bureau and community leaders have done a great job in informing residents about the importance of the census, there are still families and individuals out there who may have not been counted or aware of the census at all. To assist in spreading awareness APD Urban Planning and Management is doing its part by providing some background information and answers to common concerns surrounding the census that can be found on the APD-U social media pages. In this post, I’ll be giving a better breakdown of what the census is and why it is important for your community.

Before diving into why anyone should fill out the U.S Census we should understand what it is first. Per the United States Constitution every decade there must be a count of the total U.S population. The purpose of the census is to help determine the number of representatives each state receives inside of the United States House of Representatives based on the population count from census submissions. The total population count is also used to determine the amount of funding local communities are eligible to receive per resident. The funding received is used to make improvements to local governments, school systems, and infrastructure (US Census Bureau,2020). So, in short, by completing the census your community can receive funds to help fix the everyday problems you see in your area.

The challenge with the census is making sure it receives representation from as many communities as possible. Unfortunately, minority communities are often under-represented in the census and with a growing minority population in the United States it is very important that everyone is counted.  Over the past 30 years, APD Urban Planning and Management has worked in many minority communities, and often the most prevalent issues could be resolved with the proper funding. Completing the census is one of the best tools to make sure your community receives the funding it deserves. To get an idea of the response rates in your area check out this web map created by Esri showing the 2020 census self-response rates.

Remember those funds I was talking about? Well, the submission counts are used to measure the amount of funds that will be disbursed from the government to local municipalities. There is a fund of about $1.5 trillion (Reamer,2019) that will be apportioned to communities based on its population count. Essentially every census response from a community has a dollar amount attached to it. For example, one person responding to the census could mean $1000 the community will receive from the government depending on the state the person lives in.  The $1000 could be used to create jobs, rebuild roads, and fund education programs! As time goes on we all know every community will change. To make sure your community is on the right side of that change it is your duty and responsibility to complete the census to progress your community and set the tone for the next 10 years.

Lastly, APD-U uses census data in some fashion in all projects. We use that data along with in-depth community engagement to give us a well-rounded understanding of the community we are working in. The information we receive helps guide the decision-making process to properly create recommendations on how to improve the community. To have more people fill out the census means having more accurate work products that truly reflect what the community needs based on who is there.

So now that I am off my soapbox. If you have been inspired to complete the census right now, you can! Head over to 2020census.gov to complete your response today! It only takes 10 minutes to complete and once you’re done make sure you let everyone know that you’ve done your part in advancing your community for the next 10 years!

 

References:

US Census Bureau (2020). Importance of the Data. Retrieved September 11, 2020, from https://2020census.gov/en/census-data.html

Reamer, A. (2019, November 1). Comprehensive Accounting of Census-Guided Federal Spending. Retrieved September 11, 2020, from https://gwipp.gwu.edu/sites/g/files/zaxdzs2181/f/downloads/Counting%20for%20Dollars%202020%20Brief%207A%20-%20Comprehensive%20Accounting.pdf

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