Ensuring Good Census Data
The Alaska Census Working Group – ensuring accurate census data for Alaska
To be sure every Alaskan is counted in both the 2020 Census and the annual American Community Survey (ACS), we all need to step up and do our part. To help accomplish this task, Foraker has pulled together a diverse group of Alaska organizations to address critical elements that are necessary for an accurate count. The Alaska Census Working Group has pinpointed issues that could result in undercounting, especially in rural areas. One of the major obstacles they have identified is insufficient funding from the federal government.
The budget proposed for conducting the census is far lower than is required for an accurate count. This lack of funding will have a significant impact on Alaska and our communities.
The working group also supports making the ACS mandatory and ensuring that sample sizes are adequate to accurately reflect the make-up of Alaska.
Consider the variety of ways Alaska uses information from the census and the ACS:
- Census Bureau data, gathered for the most past through the ACS, affects the allocation of more than $3.2 billion in Alaska each year.
- Alaska uses that federal funding to build and repair roads and bridges, to operate our healthcare and education systems, to provide nutrition assistance to low-income children and families, to develop and operate affordable housing, to support our foster care system, and much more.
- Census data is used to redraw state legislative boundaries.
- Local governments use census data to redraw their political subdivisions.
- Census data is used to enforce state and federal laws, including civil rights laws, voting rights requirements, and the obligation of financial institutions to serve minority populations.
Many Alaska populations are undercounted when resources are insufficient for the Census Bureau to properly gather accurate data. When this happens:
- The state receives less federal funding, making the current budget crisis even worse.
- All Alaska residents experience reductions in essential services like road repairs.
- Children and low-income Alaskans suffer disproportionately from decreases to education funding and programs that make up Alaska’s social safety net.
- Redistricting may be inequitable because of poor data quality.
- Governments and organizations are less able to effectively plan for the future.
- Laws protecting vulnerable populations may not be properly enforced.
- Governments, businesses, nonprofits, and universities use census data in their research and planning.
How you can help
- Send a letter or resolution from your organization stating your support for full funding of the 2020 Census (see samples below)
- Monitor the Foraker blog and Facebook page where we will keep you up-to-date on developments related to the census
- Review national information on websites for the U.S. Census Bureau, The Census Project, Census Outreach, and the Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation
- Review the documents below that provide background on the census that you can use in your advocacy
We urge you to learn everything you can about the census and the ACS, and prepare to advocate for them. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.