The Importance of the Census
How often do you travel on federally funded highways? Have your kids participated in a summer program put on by a local social service nonprofit? Do you have a friend who received a grant for vocational training when a plant they had worked in for 20 years shut down? Many of us have enjoyed wildlife preserves, know children who receive free or reduced lunch at school, or have used buses and subways supported by federal grants. Any of us would be hard pressed to argue the lack of importance of funding for our fire fighters, water pollution control or special education programs.
"What’s the common denominator between all of these vastly different services?" you may be asking. Funding for every one of these services is impacted by the Census.
The census has a broad reach and a high impact on our lives every day. We just don’t often think about it.
Here are three ways the Census impacts you and your neighbors.
- Economic Impact: Filling out a simple questionnaire, or rather ignoring it, may seem as if no harm has been done. The truth is that $1,400 worth of harm will come from every person who is not counted each year. As a community, we’ll take the hit for each person each year for the next 10 years. That’s $14,000 per person that is not counted lost for our community. Those dollars fund programs at every level of society. The examples above were only scratching the surface. If you’d like to dive deeper and see how census funds are allocated, this report from the U.S. Census Bureau will show you.
- Representation: The scariest part is that funding is only one portion of the impact of the Census. Seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are directly tied to population established in the Census. With each lost seat, Illinois and our immediate congressional districts lose a piece of our voice in national decisions. At a time like we’re living through right now, it’s clear to see the importance of having representatives telling our stories in Washington and advocating for our needs.
- Jobs: Jobs and business will also be impacted by the Census. Every day across the country, businesses of all sizes use data to make decisions. Decisions like where to add jobs, where to cut jobs, where to relocate to, where to open a second location, how to consolidate or expand physical locations, and even what product offerings make sense in individual markets are all decisions that lean on census data. I would venture to argue that some of the best marketing we can do as a community is to make sure we are all counted so that companies evaluating locations and workforce over the next 10 years are drawn even tighter to the Aurora region.
I think we can all agree, that life could look a lot different when we think about the amount of money, the volume of our collective voice, and the jobs that are at stake in getting an accurate Census count. We all have a part to play in protecting the future of our communities.
If you’re with me and want to learn what you can do, click to read the second blog in this series to learn 5 Ways to Support the Census and Your Community!