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The countdown to the 2010 Census has begun, and the U.S. Census Bureau is looking to national, tribal, state and local officials and community leaders to ensure an accurate count. With Census Day less than two years away—April 1, 2010—the Census Bureau has already launched a critical national effort that affects the apportionment of congressional seats, and how the federal government annually allocates $300 billion in federal assistance to state, local and tribal governments.

The 2010 Census will have one of the shortest census questionnaires in the history of the United States, which dates back to the nation’s first census in 1790. The 2010 Census will ask for name, gender, age, date of birth, Hispanic origin, race, relationship and whether the householder owns or rents his/her home. All answers are protected by law and strictly confidential.

More than 11,000 state, local and tribal governments have registered for the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) program to update the Census Bureau’s address information for their communities.

Communities will also begin planning for Complete Count Committees, a team of local government, business and community leaders, who are appointed by a governor for a statewide committee or by a community’s highest-elected official for a local committee. Members of the committees work to make sure their communities are counted. During Census 2000, more than 11,800 Complete Count Committees were formed to help develop and implement locally based outreach and recruitment campaigns.

“The participation of community leaders, organizations and local governments can help make the 2010 Census the most accurate census in our nation’s history,” said Steve Murdock, director of the U.S. Census Bureau.

League Committee With that in mind, the New Jersey State League of Municipalities Executive Board has created the new 2010 Municipal Census Awareness Committee, to be headed by Evesham Township Mayor and League Executive Board Member Randy Brown. “When President McDonough asked me to chair this group, I was happy to accept.” said Mayor Brown.

The New York Regional Census Center covers nine counties in downstate NY and the ten northernmost counties in New Jersey; Bergen, Hudson, Essex, Passaic, Morris, Sussex, Warren, Somerset, Union and Middlesex. There will be Complete Count Committees, Youth Complete Count Committees, Questionnaire Assistance Centers, Be Counted Sites, more than 50 Partnership Specialists and overall about 3,200 jobs including field supervisors, managers, assistant managers, crew leaders, clerks, recruiting assistants, address canvassers and enumerators.

Timing “We expect to be in full swing and operating at all levels by fall 2009,” said Lester A. Farthing, Regional Director for the New York Regional Census Center.

By that time, according to Mr. Farthing, not only are the field operations expected to be in full swing and productive, but the partnership program will have created thousands of new partners, cultivated and reestablished hundreds of former partners, implemented the Census in Schools program and established immigration initiatives to foster cooperative relationships with the many agencies in the region who provide localized immigration services.

“One of our challenges will be getting communities where English is not the primary language to understand the importance of the 2010 Census and getting counted. In that area we are geared up with Partnership Specialists representing as many ethnicities as possible,” said Mr. Farthing, adding that his teams of Partnership Specialists have been in the field meeting with potential partners since March 2008. “Early participation is the key to our success,” said Mr. Farthing.

Partnering organizations like the New Jersey State League of Municipalities are a testament that the need to participate in the 2010 Census is great but the benefits for the communities you serve are even greater. The support of New Jersey Leadership is essential to complete this undertaking to obtain the most accurate count of their communities. Building partnerships is a major component in realizing this effort. For that reason, we encourage every municipality to sign on as a 2010 Census Partner which will create a much-needed community bridge to educate and empower the State of New Jersey.

Preparing early for the 2010 Census is a great way for local leaders to learn the makeup of their communities and what they need from local government. Reasons for residents to be aware of the upcoming census and the need to participate are:

  • The federal government uses census numbers to allocate more than $300 billion in federal funds annually for community programs and services, such as education, housing and community development, health care services for the elderly, job training and more.
  • State, local and tribal governments use census information for planning and allocating funds for new school construction, libraries and other public buildings, highway safety and public transportation systems, new roads and bridges, location of police and fire departments, and many other projects.
  • Community organizations use census information to develop social service programs, community action projects, senior lunch programs and child-care centers.
  • The numbers help businesses identify where to locate factories, shopping centers, movie theaters, banks and offices—activities that often lead to new jobs.
  • The census totals are used to determine how many seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives. In addition, states use the numbers to allocate seats in their state legislatures.
For information about forming a Complete Count Committee or hosting a 2010 Census presentation at your site/school contact our Regional Census Office at 646-233-2404. More information about the 2010 Census can be found at www.census.gov/2010census.

This article was originally published in New Jersey Municipalities magazine. Vol. 86, No. 3, March 200

 

 

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