The Census

Matt Paxton

Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution requires that “an Enumeration (read census) shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years.” The first census counted every person living in the United State as of August 2, 1790, and recorded 3,893,635 people. Virginia was the most populous state, with 747,610 residents.

The 2020 census will count every person in the United States as of April 1, seven weeks from today. Sometime in mid-March, every household in the country will receive a mailing describing how they can respond to the census. They may respond by mail, by phone, or online, with the online option being a much greater factor this year than 10 years ago.

If you don’t respond to the letter, the familiar census taker or enumerator will pay you a visit, and help complete the census form with you. Census takers will visit homes in April to conduct quality check interviews, and then in mid-May to help collect responses. If someone visits your

If someone visits your home to collect information for the 2020 Census, check to make sure that they have a valid ID badge, with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. Census workers may also carry Census Bureau bags and other equipment with the Census Bureau logo.

Speaking of census takers, the Census Bureau needs people interested in temporary work. The job pays well, with pay rates varying depending on the prevailing wages in the area, and census workers are reimbursed generously for their auto mileage. The Census Bureau even pays you while you’re being trained. If you’re interested in applying, call 1-855-JOB-2020 or go online to jobs. As I write this on Friday, the Census Bureau needs an additional 85 workers for Rockbridge County, 179 for Lexington and 18 for Buena Vista.

Responding to the census may seem like an inconvenience, and even an invasion of privacy. But the results are critical for allocating billions of dollars in federal and state programs over the next decade. The census data affects funding for education, transportation, emergency services, rural development and housing assistance, and many other programs. We’re familiar with the census’s impact on voting districts, and even on the number of representatives in Congress a state may have.

If you’re worried about the personal, identifiable information you provide to the Census Bureau becoming public – well, yes, that information will be available – in 72 years! You probably won’t be around for it. The 1940 census records were released in 2012, and the 1950 data will come out in 2022. The men who hammered

The men who hammered out the Constitution felt that a periodic counting of people, households and other data was important enough to be specifically called for in our country’s foundational document. They believed that it was critical for the nation to have this information, but, because so much rides on the census data, it’s just as important for our communities and ourselves.

So, I urge you to take the time to respond to the census questionnaire by whatever means is easiest for you. And, if you’re looking for a pretty good job for a few months, the Census Bureau could use the help.

The News-Gazette

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