submitted by Jessika Kasten; photo by Mary Ellen O’Brien
On February 19, 2020, Becky Schigiel, Sr. Partnership Specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau, spoke to Downtown Rotarians about the upcoming 2020 United States Census. Becky spoke to us about the three top reasons that the Census is so important: 1) It’s the basis of our democracy. The Constitution specifically calls out that everyone in the United States will be counted every ten years so that we can determine representation, 2) It the basis by which $675 billion dollars are distributed by the Government annually. Census data is used to determine the amount of funding for important things such as roads, school lunches, foster care, special education and much more. It’s estimated that for every person missed in Dane County, we lose about $2,000 annually for each of the next 10 years, and 3) Census data is heavily relied upon by leaders (community, faith, business) when making decisions that impact our local communities.
The three takeaways that Becky wanted us to take with us are that the Census is safe, easy and important. All household data is confidential, and the government has been working for years to ensure that the data gathered through the online process is secure and encrypted. In terms of being easy, the survey is available online, by phone, by mail – or in person once the door knocking campaign begins in May. The survey is also available in 13 languages and there are guides for many additional languages.
Mailings will begin in mid-March, encouraging people to start taking the census. Paper forms will arrive in April, and in-person door-to-door outreach will begin in May for anyone who has not responded. In 2010, Wisconsin had the highest response rate (83%), which we are looking to repeat in 2020.
Becky asked the group to help share census information with our connections/groups, especially those groups most likely to not self-report (children under the age of 5 were the most under-reported group in 2010), as well as to spread the message regarding employment opportunities. Dane County needs to recruit about 4,000 additional census takers over the next two months – a position which pays $22/hour.
For additional resources, or to apply for position, please visit 2020census.gov.