The Census and Data-Driven Decision Making!

With National Census Day (April 1) upon us, I wanted to talk about how important Census responses and data are for public administrators.

picture of a cartoon city

State and local governments, and even nonprofits, can use census data for descriptive analyses to describe the demographic diversity within a jurisdiction or  assessments to understand the communities needs and target program and policy efforts effectively. Governments can use the data to help with planning related to public-policy decision making, including the day-to-day decision-making process. 

Here are some ways that public administrators around you have used Census data: 

  • Reapportionment and Redistricting: Census data can be used to comply and enforce laws related to reapportionment and redistricting. For example, the race question on the Census becomes useful for local governments compliance with and enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. To learn more, check out this information
  • Community Planning and Development: Census data can be used at the city-wide level to prepare and update general plans like land use and housing elements and for infrastructure planning. To learn more, check out this information
  • Social Services: Census data can be used to assess the need of social service programs. For example, Head Start programs are mandated to serve families with the greatest need. Data from the Census Bureau, through the Census or the American Community Survey, are used to certify eligibility for federal and state funding of the Head Start program and to target areas where the program is needed. To learn more, check out this information
  • School Districts: Census data can help school districts develop demographic profiles of the students and community to better understand their educational needs. For example, this can help schools identify the need for bilingual instruction programs and other special services that may be warranted in the schools. To learn more, check out this information
  • New Service Justifications: Similarly to the above statements for schools, nonprofits and local governments can use Census data to create demographic profiles to justify new service provisions. To learn more, check out this information

Census data can serve so many purposes; these were just a few! So please remember to complete your 2020 Census! This has a huge impact on what public administrators will understand about our communities for the next 10 years. 

Complete your 2020 Census online at my2020census.gov, by phone at 844-330-2020, or by mail when the physical questionnaire arrives in mid-April. 

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