The United States Constitution requires that the residential population of the country be counted every 10 years. A complete and accurate count is vital for communities. Census data is used to distribute funding for road repairs, school improvements, and social programs. The number and distribution of elected officials are based on census data. Nonprofit organizations, businesses, and governments use census data to identify community needs and evaluate solutions to difficult problems.
Historically, some populations – including communities of color, low-income households, immigrants, and young children – have been undercounted in the census. Undercounts happen for many reasons. People may not understand the census, may not trust the government, or may not want to share their information. Whatever the reason people don’t participate, undercounts deprive communities of necessary resources and representation.
The next census occurs in April 2020. For the first time, census data will be collected primarily online. The new format may make it even harder for people without reliable internet access to participate.
A fair and accurate count in Census 2020 is vital for southeast Michigan. Researchers estimate that for every person not counted, communities will lose about $1,800 per year in federal funds. As trusted members of the communities they serve, Michigan nonprofit organizations
are well positioned to engage on this issue and encourage census participation.