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It's Time to Be Counted

By now, you have likely received your 2010 Census forms in the mail. Some of you, like myself, have probably already completed and returned the form; I had to otherwise it may have gotten misplaced and not returned at all. For those who have not returned your form yet, I hope this blog encourages you to do so as soon as possible.

What is the Census?

The Census is an official count of every household in the United States, including non-residents. The Constitution requires that a count be conducted every 10 years. This year the Census is made up of only 10 questions. It is estimated that it should take about 10 minutes to complete the form. The Census asks questions about:

  • number of people living in your household
  • racial and ethnic background
  • age and sex
  • homeownership status

Why is it Important?

The information collected from the census is used not only to determine population in the U.S., but also to determine the number of seats each state will occupy in the U.S. House of Representatives. Electoral districts and constituency boundaries are set using census data. Additionally, census data is sometimes used to advocate for causes, or assist in research.

As I began my journey to complete my family tree, I used census data to locate my relatives. Surprisingly, I was able to go back to the 1800s! Without the census data, my family tree would have stopped at my great grandparents. Think about your great grandchildren that are one day going to want to complete their family tree, but you won't be there, because you weren't counted.

How does it benefit your community?

On a more practical note, it makes sense to participate in the census because census information is used to determine the needs in your community. Census data is used to determine how more than $400 billion of federal funding is spent on:

  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Senior centers
  • Job training
  • Bridges, roads and other public works projects

If accurate information is not collected, your community could miss out on appropriate representation in government as well as vital services.

Is your information private?

Some of the public express concern about census information being used against them in the case of receiving government benefits, possible incrimination or potential deportation, in the case of illegal aliens. Census data cannot identify a person by name, address, social security number, etc. Identifying information collected from the census, by law, cannot be shared with the public or even government entities such as the IRS, FBI or CIA. Census bureau employees must take an oath for life to protect identifiable information.

What can you do to help?

At the end of each workshop, I try to remind everyone about the importance of completing the census. Once you have mailed your form, encourage others to complete their census forms in a timely manner. The census bureau welcomes your help in getting the word out. The census bureau has partnered with government, non-profit, corporate, and educational institutions. To sign up as a 2010 Census partner or for more information, visit 2010 Census.

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