Caldwell County gears up for 2020 Census
By Wesley Gardner
The Caldwell County Complete Count Committee is gearing up for the 2020 Census in an attempt to get as complete a count as possible for decennial event.
The committee is one of many established by local governments to increase awareness and motivate residents to respond to the 2020 census.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the federal government has been counting the population once every 10 years since 1790, as mandated by the Constitution.
The census counts the nation’s population and households, providing the basis for reapportioning congressional seats, redistricting, and distributing more than $675 billion in federal funds annually to support states, counties and communities’ vital programs — including housing, education, transportation, employment, health care and public policy.
Federal funds, grants and support to these communities are based on population totals and breakdowns by sex, age, race and other factors, so communities benefit the most when the census counts everyone.
“Every form of funding we get and many, many grants are tied to [the census’] accuracy,” said Caldwell County Judge Hoppy Haden. “It’s incredibly important.
“Every 1 percent were off amounts to about $25 million in funding.”
According to United States Census Bureau Partnership Specialist Clara Engle, the process to be counted will be much simpler this year. For the first time, residents will be able to respond to the 2020 census questionnaire online or by phone. Letters inviting people to fill out their forms will begin arriving in mailboxes as early as March 12.
The form itself will be easy to fill out and includes only a handful of questions, including the name, race, sex and date of birth of everyone living in the household as of April 1, 2020.
One of the challenges often facing census data collectors is figuring out how to reach hard-to-count populations, Engle said. Several factors can attribute to residents failing to complete their census surveys.
Many residents can be difficult to interview, whether it’s a matter of language barriers or they simply lack internet access. Others are hard to locate or contact, whether those individuals are highly mobile, homeless, live in a gated community, or would rather remain hidden.
Engle noted some individuals don’t complete their census surveys because they’re suspicious of how the government might use their data.
A main point of contention entering this year’s census was the question as to whether or not the survey would be able to ask for residents’ citizenship status. While this question was ultimately not included in the survey, the issue has still contributed to sense of unease among some.
According to the United States Census Bureau, federal law protects all data provided through census surveys. By law, the government cannot share information with immigration enforcement agencies, law enforcement agencies, or allow the information to be used when determining eligibility for government benefits.
According to Engle, hard-to-reach populations in the area include children under the age of five, youth aged 18-24, seniors and the disabled, racial and ethnic minorities, households living in poverty, non-homeowners, those with limited English proficiency and those with limited internet access.
The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting to fill hundreds of thousands of temporary positions across the country to assist with the 2020 Census count.
Those interested in part-time jobs assisting data collection can visit https://2020census.gov/jobs.