Every 10 years, America takes stock of its population with the U.S. Census. The count is mandated by the Constitution and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency.
According to the Census 2020 website, each home received an invitation to respond to a short questionnaire. This year marked the first time that everyone could respond to the census online as well as by mail or over the phone.
The census provides critical data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers and many others use to provide daily services, products and support for communities across the country. Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads and other services based on census data.
The results of the census also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, and data are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts as well.
The 2020 Census marked the 24th time that the country has counted its population; the first was in 1790.
Normally, people have until the end of the year to submit their information, but this year President Donald Trump went all the way to the Supreme Court to get it to end early. He won and Census 2020 ended on Oct. 15 instead of Dec. 31.
Census 2020 marked the first digital count, with the majority of self responses coming through via the Internet. In addition to the challenges presented by Trump’s pressure to end the count early, the Census Bureau also dealt with funding cuts and Trump’s attempts at having undocumented workers excluded from the count.
The biggest challenge, though, came from the coronavirus pandemic. The results of all this, reports Vox.com is what some officials fear will be the least accurate census in modern history.
The long-term impact could be that undercounted communities (which already tend to be communities below or at the poverty level) will be deprived of funding and resources.
According to the agency’s website, population counts used for apportionment will be delivered by law to the President by Dec. 31.
And then by early April 2021, Census 2020 will send redistricting counts to the states. These will be used to redraw legislative districts based on population change.
The Census data provides a document called the American Community Survey, which issues information on more than 40 topics, including income, health insurance coverage, education, commuting, occupations and languages spoken at home. This year, Census workers also made an attempt to count the homeless at large, in soup kitchens, shelters and tent encampments.
Our Weekly’s year in review
Sankofa is an African word from the Akan tribe in Ghana. The literal translation of the word and the symbol is “it is not taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind.” It’s symbol is based on a mythical bird with its feet firmly planted forward with its head turned backwards. Thus, the Akan believe the past serves as a guide for planning the future. To the Akan, it is this wisdom in learning from the past which ensures a strong future.
The Year 2020 has included some unique stories. These issues impacted all of us in one shape or form and the last 12 months reminded us that nothing is certain or concrete. Our Weekly’s year-end edition features five selected stories, looking back to the year that was. Let us learn from the past and ensure a strong and happy New Year!