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Completing U.S. Census 2020 info vital to area funding

Vicky O. Misa

With data collected every decade, the official nation-wide population count directly impacts how a community is properly represented — like how many seats a state gets in congress and how to update boundaries for districts, like state, congressional and schools.

The questions are few, but purposeful: name, sex, age, date of birth, ethnicity, race, living situation and relationship.

“Each of those questions provides a specific connection to the funding our area can receive and the other aspects of what the data can help us achieve,” Shawnee Forward Economic Development Director Tim Burg said.

Certain questions are asked to gather specific data:

• Name — The names ensure that all residents get counted.

• Sex — Planning for, evaluating and funding particular programs is required to ensure they fairly and equitably serve the needs of males and females.

• Age, date of birth — These are collected to understand the size and characteristics of different agr groups and to present other data by age.

• Ethnicity and race — Counting those of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin is needed by federal agencies to monitor compliance with anti-discrimination provisions, such as under the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act.

• Living situation — to make sure people are only counted once, they must not be included at multiple addresses.

• Relationship — this data is used in planning and funding government programs that provide funds or services for families, people living or raising children alone, grandparents living with grandchildren, or other households that qualify for additional assistance.

Additionally, all these statistics also are used to enforce laws, regulations and policies against discrimination in government programs in society.

“There are more than $675 billion in Federal funding that is distributed to states and communities each year,” Burg said, “and it is literally up to each of us to do our part to help our area gain a portion of those funds for our own area’s needs.”

Information about an area's number of homeowners and renters helps to drive housing programs and future planning decisions.

The amount of state funds the community receives for reduced and free lunches is based on current census data.

He said things like future classroom overcrowding can be diminished or avoided, and resources can be allocated in advance, if residents will do their part by simply filling out the questionnaire.

But there is much more to the census than that, he said. “As an economic developer, the census data is a tool we use on a regular basis to provide our business prospects with a valid and trusted source of information that shows how our area is growing, and much more,” Burg said.

Oftentimes decisions on where to locate a new retail store, a new industry or even make a capital investment to expand an existing company is partially made based upon the population and other demographic information in any area, he said.

The information can help determine what the availability of the workforce is in an area, how many are currently employed, if the number of consumers is growing and will continue to grow in the county, Burg said.

“Even our local governments can use the information to help predict where they need to focus their efforts on expanding or enhancing their infrastructure,” he said, “and or plan on where they should be providing more emergency first responders in our area.”

Burg said the better job each person in the community does in gathering the area’s census data, the better job they do in shaping their own future.

Census jobs

Also, residents can apply for part-time positions as census takers. Applicants can apply online at 2020census.gov/jobs or call 1 (855) JOB-2020.

Watch for updates.

Data from the 2020 U.S. Census will help:

• Determine how many seats Oklahoma gets in Congress

• Guide how more than $675 billion in federal funding is distributed to states and communities each year

• Create jobs, provide housing, prepare for emergencies, and build schools, roads and hospitals

Census Day is April 1, 2020.