Every 10 years, the United States takes a “headcount” of sorts of everyone living within the country. This April, the census will take place again, and it is important for us at Middlesex United Way to ensure everyone in our community is informed about the process, as well as included in the count.
The census asks questions that provide a snapshot of the nation. Census results affect your voice in government, how much funding your community receives, and how your community plans for the future. When you fill out the census, you help determine how many seats your state gets in Congress, as well as help guide how more than $1.5 trillion in federal funding is distributed to states and communities each year, and create jobs, provide housing, prepare for emergencies, and build schools, roads, and hospitals. In addition to helping decide financial disbursement, state and local officials use census counts to draw boundaries for districts — congressional districts, state legislative districts, and school districts.
Questions will be asked that relate to your name, sex, age, race, relationship and where you live. It is important to provide names to ensure everyone in the house is counted, and listing the name of each person in the household helps respondents include all members, particularly in large households. The sex of each person is used to create statistics about males and females and sex data is used in planning and funding government programs, as well as helps to evaluate other government programs and policies to ensure they fairly and equitably serve the needs of males and females. Age and dates of birth are important as it helps to understand the size and characteristics of different age groups within the community. Local, state, tribal and federal agencies use age data to plan and fund government programs that provide aid to services for special age groups, such as children, working-age adults, women of childbearing age, or the older population. Race is also important, as the data collected helps federal agencies to monitor compliance with anti-discrimination provisions, such as under the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act.
The goal of the 2020 census is to count people once, only once, and in the right place according to where they live on Census Day. This is why the surveyor will ask whether a person lives in the home, or primarily stays elsewhere.
The 2020 census is an opportunity to create a better future for our community and the next generation by providing an up-to-date count of our population. It is important to note that all individuals should be counted — regardless of their age, sex, race or background. In the 2010 census, 5 percent of kids under the age of 5 weren’t counted; that’s about 1 million young children. The census counts all people living or staying at an address, not just the person or family who owns or rents the property.
Unfortunately, Middletown in the past has been designated as a “hard to count” city. This means that, in comparison to other cities, the self-response rate has been relatively low and households have not submitted their census questionnaire. Middlesex United Way will be partnering with Mayor Ben Florsheim, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, relevant stakeholders and local and state agencies to ensure that Middletown has a complete count by joining the first Middletown Complete Count Committee.
The Census Bureau does not share information gathered specific to one individual or one household, so you can rest assured your answers can’t be used against you. This is taken so seriously that there is even a legal commitment to keep the census responses confidential.
In addition to gathering this vital information, the census can help those who may be looking for another source of income. The 2020 census is hiring hundreds of thousands of workers for various positions on a temporary basis while the information is being collected.
This is a great opportunity to earn significant extra income, all while helping our community. Applying for a job with the census has never been easier. Just visit https://2020census.gov/jobs or call 855-JOB-2020 and select option 3 for more information. Pay rates for field and clerical jobs can be found at 2020census.gov/jobs/pay-and-locations.
We hope that the importance of the census is understood by all community members. If you or someone you know has any questions about the process, visit www.2020census.gov for more information or contact our office at 860-346-8685.
Kevin Wilhelm is president and CEO of the Middlesex United Way in Middletown.