LEWISBURG — The United States Census Bureau will be conducting the next census in 2020. During the Village of Lewisburg’s council meeting on Thursday, Sept. 5, Census Partnership Specialist Carolyn Tepe presented her plan to council. The census is planned to for April 1, 2020.
Tepe explained, the goal of the census is to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place. This is a requirement of the United States Constitution.
The first U.S. Census was conducted under Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson in 1790. At that time, it took nine months to complete the census, all on horse back. In 1970, census forms were mailed to 60 percent of U.S. households with a mail back feature. In 1990, electronic data collection and telephone responses began. The elimination of the “long form” happened following the 2000 census.
In 2000, the census moved to the American Community Survey, which is something the census bureau does every month of every year. The send out 240,000 surveys across the country to collect the same information the “long form” used to collect.
This is also the data that townships, cities, communities, colleges, and other organizations use for census data for the United States.
“However, it is statistically predicted census data. It is using data we collect to predict what communities look like. It is not an exact count on population. It is also statistically projected based on the previous census,” Tepe said.
“That is why the decennial census is so important, because it is an accurate count of your numbers and your community. Then, it is also used for 10 years to predict the random information we collect throughout the years.”
There are four uses of census data: apportionment, redistricting, funding, and planning.
Congressional seats are divided based on census data. In 2010, the State of Ohio lost two seats due to the census data. The census bureau is hoping Ohio does not lose another seat after the 2020 census.
Tepe explained, “Ohio is a growing state, but we are not growing at the same rate of the southern states. That is an issue for us.”
After each census, state officials use the results to redraw the boundaries of their congressional and state legislative districts, adapting to population shifts.
The census also works to help divide the $675 billion in funeral funds that flow from the State of Ohio to local governments for transportation and roads, pre-k, Head Start, and school lunch, healthcare services, SNAP, WIC, and housing programs.
Census data is used for various types of planning. Residents use the census to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality-of-life, and consumer advocacy. Businesses use Census Bureau data to decide where to build factories, offices and stores, which create jobs. Local government officials use the census to ensure public safety and plan new schools and hospitals. Real estate developers and city planners use the census to plan new homes and improve neighborhoods.
There is currently one census office opened in Ohio, located in Columbus. However, seven more will be brought in the coming weeks, including locations in Dayton, Cincinnati, Mansfield, South Point, and Cleveland.
Tepe added, the Census Bureau is currently in the process of address canvasing. She warned Police Chief Rick McGee, community members may be reporting to the police that people are knocking on their doors now. The police department has received notice of this and a document informing them what to be looking for to verify the individuals are with the Census Bureau.
The census date is April 1 and postcards will go in the mail on March 12 to all addresses (not including P.O. boxes). On Dec. 31, 2020, the bureau will release the appropriation count to the president. In April, they will release the same information to the states for redistricting efforts.
She added, they are asking for help from the communities through Census Ambassadors, who will help reach renters, highly mobile people, young adults, low income, young children, non-English speakers, LGBTQ persons, racial and ethnic minorities, and mental or physical disabled.
Census Ambassadors increase participation through addressing various individual concerns including: data privacy and confidentiality, fear of repercussions, distrust of government, feeling that it doesn’t matter if you are counting, and understanding how census does benefit everyone and secures the future of communities.
Tepe added, they normally ask councils to form Complete Count Committees, which are volunteer committees established to increase awareness about the census and motivate residents in the community to respond. However, due to Lewisburg’s size, she recommends council giving her a point of contact to help spread information.
The Census Bureau is also hiring community members to help count. These are mostly part-time positions, but there are some full-time positions as well. For more information, visit 2020census.gov/jobs.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH