2020 Census Takes Center Stage on FEDtalk

Last week on FEDtalk, host Natalia Castro discussed the 2020 Census with Deborah Stempowski, Chief of Decennial Census Management Division, Beth Lynk, Campaign Director for Census Counts at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and Mary Jo Hoeksema, Director of Government and Public Affairs at the Population Association of America. The group discussed the importance of the census and ways to ensure the 2020 Census moves forward without delay or issue.

To kick off the show the guests discussed all the ways the census impacts the public. Stempowski noted that over $675 billion in federal funds is dispersed based on census data. Census data also determines congressional districts and representative seats. Hoeksema furthered that many private sector groups rely on census data for identifying economic trends and conducting business actions.

Lynk expanded on this, “No matter what issue you care about, you ultimately care about census data and making sure the data is accurate and fair. If you care about healthcare, you care about census data because of Medicaid data and resources for community health centers. If you care about the environment or environmental justice, many enforcement of environmental justice laws and work in states happens based on census data… even states and state budgets use census data to determine their state budget set up. It can even be really hyperlocal.”

An on-going theme in the show was the discussion of the census as a “group effort”- involving the federal, state, and local government as well as non-profit groups and community leaders.

Hoeksema explained how adequate funding is critical to furthering the mission of the agency to achieve a complete, accurate count. Census funding is particularly important for ensuring the agency has the resources to partner with community organizers.

On the controversial citizenship question, Stempowski assured listeners that no matter what the Supreme Court decides, the agency will do everything in their power to ensure a complete and accurate count and is prepared for the court to rule to put the question on or off the survey.

Lynk feared immigrant communities may already be hesitant to respond; therefore, groups like Census Counts have focused efforts on educating communities on the secure nature of census data and encouraging responses as by law.

For more information on how the 2020 Census is focusing on cyber security, new technology, and various ways to respond to the census or get involved, listen to the full show here.

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