For parts of the country, the 2020 Census kicked off in early January of this year. However, for the majority of the nation, official invitations for responses began yesterday, Thursday, March 12, 2020. The decennial census is a mandated count of the U.S population and its territories. It is a process that has existed since 1790 and is conducted every ten years by the U.S Census Bureau. This year will be the country’s twenty-fourth time conducting the survey. 

Capturing the growing population in the United States is an essential yet formidable task. The U.S Census Bureau must build a precise list of every residence in the U.S and the five U.S Territories, including dormitories and military barracks. This process requires getting a member from every home to complete the census in March and April of 2020. 

The results from the 2020 Census will shape our government and influence policymaking and planning for the next ten years. An inaccurate count could lead to a significant loss in funding for state and local municipalities and also result in unequal political representation. Key legislative outcomes such as the drawing of district lines and the reapportionment of U.S. House of Representatives seats materialize from the population data aggregated from the census. In addition to determining congressional representation, results from the census inform how billions of dollars in federal funding are allocated among our states and communities. The data derived from the census will impact federal grant programs in areas like housing, education, transportation, homeland security, and public health services. 

Furthermore, the decennial census serves as a vital information resource for planners, business leaders, developers, and nonprofit organizations. It has a direct impact on social and economic development programs. Government agencies depend on the census to safeguard allocations and administrative processes. Mapping a bus transit route or evaluating the performance of a program both require accurate population data to ensure services are being directed to the areas that will benefit from their impact the most. Local governments will rely on the 2020 Census along with other sets of data to plan services for their respective communities. These services can address the needs of distressed communities through the creation of employment opportunities or the provision of housing subsidies. Similarly, the data from the census will help determine the need for schools, hospitals, and additional public sector investments in each neighborhood. 

It is vital that the results from this year’s census accurately reflect the makeup of our nation to continue to be a democracy that aims to serve all. 

For more information on the 2020 Census and how you can contribute to an accurate count, visit the official U.S. 2020 Census website.

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