By Mason Crane-Bolton
2020 may seem like a long way off for many of us, but the 2020 census is just around the corner…and it’s a big deal. Capital “B,” capital, “D.”
What is the Census?
Here is a brief background on the Census (and why it’s important to New Jersey) according to Complete Count NJ:
“The Census is a count of all U.S. residents required by the Constitution every 10 years. The federal government uses it to allocate resources to state governments – more than $17.5 billion dollars to New Jersey every year. The Census determines congressional districts and state legislative districts. Almost everything we know about our population and our communities comes from information collected in the decennial census and its related surveys.”
The Census is especially important for how funding and influence are determined. The Census, acting as a marker for how many people live in each area and what needs they may have, determines what kind and how much funding each state receives, as well as how many representatives they may have. Therefore, it is especially important to have an accurate count for the Census.
So what are the issues and where do the problems lie? The answer is that getting an accurate count is not as easy or simple as it may seem.
Complete Count NJ expands on this problem:
“When New Jersey residents are not counted the state loses funding and influence.
The Census has historically missed counting people in Hard to Count (HTC) areas. Particularly vulnerable to not being counted: immigrants, people of color, urban residents, children under 5, people living in multifamily housing, non-native English speakers, and people who are homeless.”
These HTC areas can skew the numbers and demographics of our state and our country, making it seem as though we have a smaller population or that the demographics of different populations are smaller than they actually are (this also may make the percentage populations of other demographics seem larger than they are). It’s therefore extremely important to have an accurate count for our state.
What Can I Do?
Are you wondering what you can do to help ensure NJ has an accurate 2020 Census count? There are lots of ways you can get involved. Below are some of our favorites:
- Talk to your colleagues about the 2020 Census and bring it to the forefront of your professional work. For those of us who speak to and with the public, it is vital to make sure the public is well-informed about the census. You can do your part by making sure you help inform the public about the 2020 Census and how vital it is they take part in it.
- Talk to your friends and family about the 2020 Census. Just as it’s important to talk about the census in your professional life, you can do your part as well by talking about the 2020 Census with your friends, family, and neighbors. Help make sure they know how important it is to participate in the census and how they might get involved.
- Get involved. If you’re interested in helping conduct the 2020 Census, you can be directly involved! The 2020 Census will hire many people to be involved in all levels of the Census—from people in the field to those in offices. You can learn more below about how to apply for these positions.
Remember, the 2020 Census will be the only nationwide census until 2030 and affects both funding and political influence for the entirety of NJ. Do your part and help get the word out about the 2020 Census!
Interested in Getting Involved?
If you’re interested in getting involved in the 2020 Census there are many ways you can do so. The Census hires part-time and full-time workers to assist during the Census—and some of these positions may become permanent.
If you’re interest in working for the Census, you can learn more and apply for positions here: 2020 Census Jobs
Learn More About the NJ Complete Count Commission: NJ Complete Count Commission
Learn More About Complete Count NJ: Complete Count NJ
If you have feedback or would like to be part of the conversation, leave us a comment below or email us as firstname.lastname@example.org.
Come back for our next blog! New posts are published on the first and third Thursdays of each month.
Mason Crane-Bolton is Communications Manager for the New Jersey Foundation for Aging. His writing has appeared in Epiphany, UU World, To Wake/To Rise, and others.