The 2010 Census – It Matters

Posted on May 10, 2010

If you don’t think the 2010 US Census matters, think again.  Almost every decision made can be related back to Census data in one form or another. If affects your daily life in many ways. I’m an advocate because for researchers, it’s the mother lode with data that can be aggregated in many, many ways, from a single zip code to a long-term national trend analysis.

Officially, the census is mandated every 10 years to accurately allocate Congressional representation. The more people a State can claim, the more seats it gets in the US House of Representatives. It also helps the Federal Government dish out over $400 billion in domestic economic assistance.  By law, the information can’t be shared with the FBI, CIA, IRS or anyone else. But there’s much more to the equation.

FOR YOU   Census data helps with home-buying, job relocation, cultural diversity, business opportunities, neighborhood amenities, crime statistics, public services, even family history. How many grocery stores are in your neighborhood? What ethnic restaurant could you open as a small business opportunity? What neighborhood close to that new job is the safest for relocation?  

FOR BUSINESS   Accurate data tells a company: where the young families are that need baby supplies; how many 18 – 24 year-olds are in a shopping district; average family size for housing design and automobile manufacturing; number of homes vs. apartments needing landscaping, appliances, home furnishings, repairs; market saturation before opening a new store; the skill level of the local labor force; how to fine-tune a regional or even neighborhood promotion. Market analysis, advertising strategies, business forecasting, and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) compliance all fall within census data usage.

FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS   New schools, highways, hospitals, libraries, police hires, and water treatment plants depend on accurate census data, which also helps environmental, health, education, community development, social services, and disaster relief agencies with long-term planning. Preventing disease outbreaks, analyzing energy consumption, or identifying conservation opportunities are just a few of the results.

FOR THE FEDS   Census data helps monitor civil rights and affirmative action legislation. It helps determine eligible areas for housing assistance, job training and food stamps as well as where to build veterans hospitals and how to formulate national transportation policies. It helps forecast future needs like benefits for the elderly (Social Security/Medicare), emergency services, and allocation of funds for Federal education programs and farm subsidies.

Census data is the basis for gathering unemployment, crime, health, and education statistics as well as the consumer price index, incarceration rates, and college graduate levels.  If you missed turning in your form, you can still do your part. Answer the door and answer the questions. Not only is it the law, it’s in your best interest. And, researchers around the world thank you!

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