2020 Census: A Call to Count

September 16, 2020
In case you missed it, yesterday we gathered a handful of business leaders and census experts to discuss why they care about the 2020 Census and why you should too. 
 
 
Watch the conversation to learn how the 2020 Census will impact your community for the next decade: 
 

Andrew Reamer, Research Professor from the GW Institute of Public Policy and census expert, gave us the lay of the land with a refresher course of what the census is. 

 
The U.S. Constitution requires a complete count of the U.S. population every 10 years.  
 
The data collected from this year’s census will be used for the next decade to determine the district boundaries for political representation and to allocate trillions of dollars in federal funding.   
 
When people don’t respond to the census, they aren’t counted, and their communities receive less money for things like schools, hospitals and infrastructure projects, not to mention pandemic and disaster relief funds. 
 
Steven Dillingham, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, weighed in with an update on where the census stands today and how easy it is to complete the 2020 Census. 
 
As of today, 92.4% of American have responded to the census, and in the final stretch, enumerators are combing neighborhoods, knocking on doors and trying to reach anyone who hasn’t responded. 
 
It’s easier than ever to respond to the census. Individuals can speak with an enumerator, respond by mail, over the phone, or online. You can learn more about how to respond here
 
One easy way every business owner can help? 
 
Ask your employees and customers to respond. The online option takes less than five minutes to complete, just click here.
 
Last, but certainly not least, we heard from local business leaders who are working hard to raise response rates in their own communities. 
 
Patrick Jankowski, Senior Vice President, Research, Greater Houston Partnership, spoke to us about the core of the matter. Houston’s response rate was far lower than the national average. This means that they stand to lose millions of dollars in federal funding if everyone isn’t counted. As Patrick explained, if Houston loses money from federal funds because they’re undercounted in the census, they’ll have to make up for that by raising taxes. Simply put, Patrick asked: Would you rather fill out a piece of paper now, or pay higher taxes for the next ten years? 
 
We were inspired by Celia and Joe Ward-Wallace, who opened South LA Café in November 2019 with two goals in mind: provide fresh and affordable food and create a social gathering place for their community. They’ve continued to operate throughout the pandemic and it’s that sense of community that has driven them to offer coupons to customers completing the census, used social media to spread the word, and even created educational videos. 
 
Watch Celia and Joe break down why the census matters and what they’re doing:
 
 
Our guests are great reminders that the influence of local business leaders often extends beyond their companies, and there is opportunity for civic-minded executives to encourage local governments and organizations to promote participation in the census.  Find resources on how you can get the word out in your own community here.