Monday, March 5, 2018

We Can’t Count on the Census Bureau

By Maya Wiley

"New York City and all of our nation’s cities have for too long suffered undercounts that have denied us political representation and federal resources.” These were the words of Mayor Rudy Giuliani in 1996 as the nation geared up for the 2000 census.

“We” are only “the people” if we are counted. This is why the founding fathers enshrined the census in the Constitution.

Population numbers establish our electoral power for federal congressional seats and for state and local representation, and for federal funding. They also determine how much money states get back in federal payments for health care, housing, education and more.

But unless things change, and change quickly, people, many of whom are people of color and marginalized members of society, will be systematically undercounted under President Trump.

Trump’s proposed 2019 budget has $262 million less than the Census Bureau last fall said it needed to properly count Americans — never mind failing to make up for previous spending caps that underfunded it to begin with.

The Republican-controlled Congress in 2014 demanded that the 2020 census cost less than the 2010 census to save money. They even refused to adjust for inflation.

Consequently, the Census Bureau is already behind and relying, in part, on saving money by going digital. The coming census is the first in which most Americans are going to be counted over the internet.

While digital counting might sound good, it has significant challenges. Nationally, only about 57% of black and Latino residents have internet access at home. And people over 65 or with only a high school diploma are more likely to lack home internet service.
Some of these Americans will technically be able to use smartphones to fill out their forms — but there, still, there are serious racial and economic disparities.

Click here for the full article.

Source: The New York Daily News

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