Census 2020: Business owners should encourage employee participation

Updated March 11, 2020 - 11:51 am

Most Americans know that the Decennial Census is important for Congressional reapportionment and redistricting. They also realize it assists in evaluating and understanding demographic trends at the state and national level. But many don’t realize that population count and demographic statistics also have fiscal impacts, particularly in the allotment and distribution of federal funds related to education, health care, children’s programs, transportation and infrastructure, HUD assistance and social services. In fact, it is estimated that about 300 financial assistance programs created by Congress are apportioned to states based upon population data derived from the Census.

With approximately $700 billion in annual revenue on the line, an undercount in any state can have severe consequences of nearly $2,200 per year for each person not counted. An undercount of just 1,000 people, for example, could result in the loss of more than $2 million a year; if the undercount in Nevada was just 1 percent, the net annual loss would be the equivalent of $60 million in annual revenue. The stakes are high; and for a state like Nevada, with a population that is growing, a high-transient population, a large mixed-ethnic demographic and a significant homeless population, the odds are stacked against us compared to states with a more stable demographic base.

The 2020 Census will be challenged by multiple factors, including demographic changes such as informal and complex living arrangements, and growth of increasingly diverse and mobile populations.

The Census Department also has made a commitment to focus its energy on self-response mechanisms and available data from other government administrative records and third-party sources. This will most certainly come at the expense of accessing more difficult-to-reach population groups. To complicate Nevada’s Census count even more, there is great skepticism about the Census itself and fear of how the data might be used.

It is imperative that business leaders throughout the state take a leadership role in promoting participation in the 2020 Census, particularly those who employ or serve minority and immigrant populations. We urge all business owners in our respective chambers of commerce and throughout Southern Nevada to do whatever possible to encourage their employees as well as their customers to fill out the Census completely and fully. The information that is submitted is safe, and it is a federal crime for anyone, even another federal agency, to access that data.

We want to be very clear: it doesn’t matter if one is a citizen or non-citizen, a full-time resident or a temporary resident, a child or an adult — if you are living in Nevada on April 1, you get counted in Nevada, regardless of your resident status. Our future depends on a full and accurate count, and it is up to our business owners and community leaders to step up to the plate to promote Census 2020 because every one of us matters; EVERY ONE of us COUNTS!

Ken Evans is the president to the Urban Chamber of Commerce. Peter Guzman is the president of the Latin Chamber of Commerce of Nevada.

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