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By the Numbers: Census 2020

Conducting a census is one of the most important governmental functions and provides much more than a bunch of statistical information. For centuries, governments have counted citizens and identified key data necessary for maintaining the governing structure. 

A census is important in identifying the needs of the citizenry, trends, growth, wealth, and taxation. In the United States, the census will help dictate Congressional representation, federal funding to states, and state funding to local governments. The census helps identify the need for government services, including transportation, housing, education, infrastructure, social services and health care. All in all, the outcome of the census will have a profound impact on many facets of our work.

Perhaps the most famous census story of all time occurred over 2,000 years ago when Publius Sulpicius Quirinius, the newly appointed imperial governor of the province of Roman Syria, was assigned to carry out a tax census of the territory. All citizens were required to travel to their birthplace to be counted. Despite his wife’s late term pregnancy, a carpenter named Joseph was obligated to travel with her from their home in Nazareth to his birthplace in Bethlehem. Upon reaching Bethlehem, due to all the travelers traveling to complete the census, there were no vacant rooms for lodging (…well you know the rest).

The first census in the United States was conducted in 1790. Results included:

  • Total U.S. Population - 3,929,625
  • Black Population -697,624 slaves and 59,557 freemen (only the state of Massachusetts reported no slaves)
  • Largest Cities by Population - Philadelphia with a population of 42,000 and New York with a population of 33,000
  • Most Populous State - Virginia with a population of 820,000
  • Nearly half of the population lived in the southern states with the rest divided between New England and the middle states (mainly Pennsylvania and New York)
  • America was youthful with 490 of every 1,000 under the age of 16

As of the last U.S. census in 2010:

  • Population of the United States - 327.16 million
  • African American Population - 42 million, representing 14% of the total population
  • Hispanic and Latino Americans are the largest ethnic minority, comprising an estimated 17.8% of the total population
  • Caucasians make up 61.3% of the total population
  • Largest Cities by Population - New York with a population of 8,175,133 and Los Angeles with a population of 3,792,621
  • Most Populous State – California with a population of 39,144,818 (Texas is second with a population of 27,469,114)
  • The 26 states east of the Mississippi (in addition to Washington, D.C. but not including the small portions of Louisiana and Minnesota east of the river) have an estimated population of 179,948,346 or 58.28% of the total population
  • The average age in the United States is 37.8 years
  • At age 85 and older, there were almost twice as many women as men (4 million vs. 2.1 million)
  • People under 21 years of age make up over a quarter of the population (27.1%), and people age 65 and over made up one-seventh (14.5%)

The process for conducting the 2020 census is already underway and it is imperative that everyone be counted. The more accurate the count, the better your communities will be represented in government programing. A wealth of valuable information is available through the U.S. Census Bureau, including materials about the work already happening in communities throughout the nation, the actions underway through the U.S. Bureau, and resources you can use to promote the census in your community. The Census Bureau has release a host of new outreach materials designed for different demographics such as African Americansrural audiencesimmigrant audiences, and others as well as members of different industries including healthcare & education.   

Over the generations one of the key aspects of a successful census is the need for trusted community members to conduct the census. Individuals participating in the census are often more comfortable talking with members of their community rather than government agents perceived as outsiders. The Census Bureau is in the process of building their team, currently recruiting and hiring census takers across the state. The starting wage is $14.50 per hour, with the ability to work up to 30 hours per week through the end of 2020. One-stop centers may want to utilize these job opportunities for job seekers served through the agency.

Ohio will also have at least 40 Census Bureau Partnership Specialists serving the 88 counties. Partnership Specialists are Census employees who engage community organizations, elected officials, college campuses, etc. to raise awareness and encourage participation in the Census, including helping to create local Complete Count Committees. They are also available to speak at events (even small gatherings of 5-6 people).

Lastly, Governor Mike DeWine recently appointed a large group of Ohioans from around the state to the Census 2020 Complete Count Commission. The purpose of the commission is to develop recommendations and assist in the administration of the census, facilitate an accurate count, and implement strategies to reach hard-to-count populations/hard-to-enumerate areas. You may recognize some of these individuals from your community. You can view the list of appointees here.

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