There is not one person living in America who will not benefit from the information gathered in the 2010 U.S. Census. But it will cost the country millions of dollars if Americans don’t complete their forms on time.
“The Census Bureau estimates for each percentage point of the population that does not return a form during the 2010 Census, it will cost approximately $80-90 million to have census workers make personal visits,” quoted the North Carolina Census 2010 Web site.
“It’s important for us to become represented in Congress and because of the money given out. The census is much more important than most people realize. I am now counted among those that are homeless and know how much the Census could affect my situation,” said Mike Wood of Chapel Hill.
The first census was created in 1790 by Congress, and directed by Thomas Jefferson, the secretary of state. The United States territory at that time included 13 states and the districts of Kentucky, Maine, Vermont and Tennessee.
According to About.com, the first census in 1790 counted 3.9 million people and the last census in 2000 showed 281.4 million people living in the U.S.
“The six inquiries in 1790 called for questions on gender, race, relationship to the head of the household, name of the head of household, and the number of slaves, if any. The plan was to count every person living in the newly created United States of America, and to use that count to determine representation in the Congress,” according to United States Census 2010 Web site.
The importance of the census has only grown over time. Currently over $400 billion dollars of federal funding is allocated for infrastructure and services. The census will determine how this money is distributed among schools, hospitals, etc.
“That’s more than $4 trillion over a 10-year period for things like new roads and schools, and services like job training centers. When you fill out the census form, you’re making a statement about what resources your community needs going forward,” said the census Web site.
However, Major Charles Blackwood of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said that in the 30 years that he had been with the department he had not seen the report generate policy change within the agency, but he still understands the value of the census.
“If the government is to provide services based on the populous then it needs a snap shot of what that populous is,” said Blackwood.
According to About.com, the data from the census will conclude the number of seats the U.S. House of Representatives hold in each state, where new jobs and job development programs are needed, it will help facilitate the need for hospitals and public schools, show market research and corporations where to open businesses and guide future homebuyers on where to buy a home.
“The census will be able to show how much money states are given which I think is the biggest reason it is important, because our education will be affected by the outcome,” said Katie Briscoe of Chapel Hill-Carrboro city schools.
Stephanie Knott, assistant to the superintendent for community relations for Chapel Hill-Carrboro city schools, said, they would be doing their part to inform the parents of the children attending the school district.
“Closer to the first of April we will be communicating with our parents to encourage their participation as it is very important to schools in terms of planning for growth and construction,” said Knott.
Applicants can rest assured that their personal information will be kept confidential. Census employees have been subjected to security and employment reference checks and sworn to secrecy before being hired. And the Constitution makes it illegal for the president to have access to the personal information under Title 13, U.S. Code, Section nine.
The N.C. Census Web site says the 2010 census is one of the shortest in history with 10 questions and is estimated to take 10 minutes to fill out and return.
Americans should remember that their participation in the census is required by law. The American Community Survey has authorized courts to issue fines up to $5,000 and could serve jail time.
“The Census Bureau views this approach as a last resort. Rather than emphasizing or seeking the imposition of penalties, the Census Bureau encourages response by explaining the importance of the questions and how the information benefits the community,” says the N.C. Census 2010 Web site.
“The more accurate the census is, the better it will be for our country,” said Alison Gamble, a student at UNC-CH who says she would participate in the census.
If you have questions concerning the census or would like to know more about it, information is available online at http://2010census.nc.gov/default.aspx.