Last month we wrote about several issues related to the 2020 Census. This month we want to emphasize that the time is now to let your voice be heard. Even though the major census (the Decennial Census) occurs in 2020, each year the American Community Survey (ACS) is conducted. And an accurate count in this survey is critically important to Alaska.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “when Americans respond to the ACS, they are doing their part to help the community plan hospitals and schools, support school lunch programs, improve emergency services, build bridges, and inform businesses looking to add jobs and expand to new markets, and more.” The bureau points out that the ACS generates data that is used to distribute more than $400 billion in federal and state funds every year. You can find a sample of the type of information that is gathered here.
It’s important, too, that we have a good understanding of the value that the Census and ACS data has for our work. That data is broken down by communities around the state and can be used in your funding applications, to help indicate the number and characteristics of the people you serve, and to set a context for your mission. As an example, go here for the data from Anchorage.
To stress the importance of not waiting until 2020 to become involved, we share the perspective of Foraker Operations Board member Gabe Layman, Executive Vice President and General Counsel for the Cook Inlet Housing Authority. Gabe points out:
- While the Decennial Census is indeed the most significant data collection the Census Bureau undertakes, the ACS also has a tremendous impact. The implementation of the ACS, which was fairly recent, has moved us from a community that must plan for “the Census” every ten years to a community that must plan for Census Bureau data collections every single year. It is imperative that we stop talking about “the Census” as if it’s a once in a decade process.
- Today, the Census Bureau is being asked to do more with less. For example, with respect to the 2020 Decennial Census, the Bureau is being asked to count approximately 30 million additional people while spending no more than it did in 2010, without consideration of cost increases or inflation.
- These pressures create a risk that Census Bureau data collections will undercount certain “Hard to Count” populations. This is concerning in Alaska, where, for a variety of reasons, many of our communities are particularly vulnerable to being undercounted.
- When undercounts occur in Alaska, our communities and the organizations that serve them do not receive their fair share of federal funding for critical programs and services. That is not acceptable.
What can you do now? As we pointed out last month, it’s time to let Governor Walker and our congressional delegation know that you support an accurate census that counts all Alaskans, and that you expect sufficient resources to be devoted to the process. Senator Dan Sullivan is on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation that oversees the census. He is a key player in making sure resources are available. You can reach Sen. Sullivan here.
We urge you to learn everything you can about the Census and prepare to advocate for it. We will continue to pass along information as we receive it. If you have questions, please contact Mike Walsh, Vice President/Director of Public Policy, at 907-388-5561 or email@example.com.
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