By Karen Stokes
The country is struggling through a pandemic, and moving forward, critical decisions will be made for the future of your community from data collected by the 2020 Census. You can do your part to shape the future. Complete your 2020 Census.
“It’s a short census, it takes on average 10 minutes to complete,” said Marilyn Sanders, regional director for the Chicago District, which includes Wisconsin.
Participating in the census is required by law. According to U.S. Census Bureau, it’s mandated by the U.S. Constitution in Article 1, Section 2: The U.S. has counted its population every 10 years since 1790.
As of a week ago, in the State of Wisconsin, 62% have responded to the census. In Milwaukee County, the response rate is slightly lower at 58.6% and the response rate is even lower in the city of Milwaukee at 51.3%.
“In past censuses, Milwaukee and the State of Wisconsin have always had very good response rates,” Sanders said. “Most importantly we’re in the midst of COVID-19, there are challenges in households and families.”
Why is the census so important?
“There are resources available that come back to the community based on census numbers. The support that communities receive based on the numbers are directly related to the $675 billion in federal spending that is allocated each year for communities and states,” said Sanders.
She continued, “Spending is distributed each year using formulas that incorporate census data, including payments for Medicare and Medicaid, programs funded through block grants, Head Start, Pell grants, SNAP, the National School Lunch Program and other resources that come back to the community.
The 2020 Census counts every person living in the United States.
“It’s important that you count everyone, every person living in your home. If it’s a relative or non-relative if they have no other residence they should be counted in terms of making certain we get a complete and accurate count,” Sanders explained.
The results of the census also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, and they are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts, redistricting, school districts, libraries and hospitals.
New for 2020, you can complete your questionnaire online, by phone, or by mail. No matter how you respond, your answers will remain safe.
“There are federal laws that protect census responses,” said Sanders. “We only provide information in the form of statistics, we never ask for financial information, your social security number or banking information, that’s not part of the census. Our goal and legal obligation is to keep your information safe. The Census Bureau has a robust cybersecurity program that incorporates industry best practices and federal security standards for encrypting data.”
“It is so important that we don’t miss this moment in time,” Sanders said. “We have to be counted now because these numbers will follow us for the next 10 years and shape the future of generations to come.”