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The Value of the Census

Posted by Bethany Wood on Fri, Dec 20, 2019

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The Census Bureau collects household information in order to understand the nation’s people and economy. The data describes where people live, their living arrangements, ages, income, education level, commuting patterns, and occupations.1 This information helps all members of the community in different ways. Following the constitutional mandate of equal population representation, the data is used to apportion seats in the House of Representatives and draw district boundaries. Conducting a census every ten years is required by the U.S Constitution.

Businesses use Census data when deciding where to build factories, office space, and stores which affects job opportunities in your area. Businesses can also take advantage of this data when determining marketing and growth opportunities. The local government uses census data for public safety and deciding where to put schools and hospitals, city planning and deciding where to put new homes and which neighborhoods to improve.

Census data is also used to allocate the annual $675 billion of federal funds used for community programs.2 In Arkansas alone, we receive almost $10 billion annually based on census information that helps pay for hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other services. Based on information from Arkansas State Data Center, “every uncounted resident means a loss of approximately $3,000 each year for the next 10 years; even a 1% undercount in 2020 may result in nearly $170 million in lost funds over a 10-year period for Washington and Benton Counties alone.”1

Census postcards will be mailed to all housing units in March 2020 encouraging self-responses. April 1, 2020 is Nationwide Census Day—every household in America will have received their invitation to participate. You can respond online, by phone, or by mail. In-person home visits will begin in May and last through July. Results will be available in January or February 2021 and state-specific data in March 2021.



  1. Engage NWA Census 2020
  2. https://www.census.gov/partners/toolkit.pdf

Topics: Community, News, Economy

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