Obtaining a complete and accurate count is critical because the results of the 2020 Census will influence the allocation of billions of dollars in federal funds to community programs as well as determine state representation in Congress and the drawing of congressional state and legislative districts.
The United States Census is mandated by the Constitution and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau every 10 years. The 2020 Census will count every person living in the United States and the five U.S. territories. Participation in the 2020 Census is required by law and is a way to participate in democracy.
Census data impacts businesses, too, as it provides business owners with critical information to help make decisions on where to build factories, open new stores or offices and add jobs across the country. It is important that everyone living in the U.S. complete the 2020 Census because responses could lead to more jobs and new businesses in a community.
David Lucas, assistant professor of entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises at Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management, explains that census data is particularly useful for entrepreneurs to understand many important business considerations. The information also provides insight into population trends and growth projections that can answer questions like what types of products to sell or services to offer.
“For example, an entrepreneur should consider the size and composition of a potential target market when deciding whether and where to open a physical establishment,” Lucas says. “Entrepreneurial businesses may also consider adjusting their product lines to satisfy the changing needs of customers in their market over time.”
The official Census Day was April 1, but it is important to note that April 1 is just a reference date and not a deadline. Respondents should count everyone living in their home as of April 1 when they complete the census. However, college students and others who moved due to COVID-19 should be counted where they live while at school or where they would have lived on April 1 to ensure an accurate count.
The census is still open to complete online, by phone or by mail, as the deadline has been extended due to COVID-19. The Census Bureau is working with health authorities to make sure that guidance is incorporated into their operations during the pandemic.
The Census Bureau has had to make changes to its operational strategies because of social distancing measures. These measures are making it difficult for census workers to reach people who have not yet responded to the census and have also slowed responses from Census Bureau call centers that help people navigate the response process.
“Like everyone else, the Census Bureau is closely monitoring and adjusting to COVID-19 in their data collection efforts,” Lucas acknowledges. “Time will tell how this disruption delays or alters the data that can be produced in this Census.”
In April, President Trump said he would ask for a deadline delay for the census to ensure its completion safely and accurately.
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