Nicole Bailey, Partnership Specialist with the New York Regional Census Center, spoke about the upcoming, 2020 U.S. Census at our regular meeting on Wednesday, July 24th.
Nicole’s responsibility is to reach out to community organizations such as ours, impress on everyone the importance of an accurate count for the 2020 census, and to encourage all to pass the word.
The U.S. Constitution requires the government to enumerate the number of people living in the United States every 10 years, and to use that data to apportion the seats in Congress among the states. Implications of the census, and of the importance of an accurate count, have far-reaching consequences, not obvious to most people.
Lawmakers use census data to draw congressional district boundaries within states, an often-controversial process that can help decide partisan control of the House of Representatives. Census data also underpin state legislative districts and local boundaries like City Councils and school boards.
The federal government bases a large amount of its spending decisions, such as how federal dollars are distributed among cities, towns and communities for schools, hospitals, infrastructure, and a myriad of other essential facilities and services. Last year, this funding amounted to about $675 billion. Census data are also used to forecast Social Security payouts, a major portion of the federal budget that affects millions throughout the country.
The government also constructs many other data products from census data. Some of those products are heavily used by businesses when determining where to open new stores and expand operations, or even what items to put on their shelves.
Nicole mentioned that they are now seeking temporary employees to help with the census count that must be completed by the end of next year. She stressed the importance of an accurate count, and  the difficulty of doing the job in certain communities, noting that in 2010 there was a significant undercount on Long Island, depriving millions of dollars from communities that can least afford to lose the funds.
Increasing cultural and linguistic diversity, privacy concerns, and government distrust are making it more difficult to conduct the census. The Census Bureau is now making it easier for people to respond through mail, phone and Internet, and is relying on civic and other community groups to reach everyone and communicate the importance of responding to the 2020 census request.
Nicole is shown above with Babylon Rotary President Jim Kanzler.