The 2020 Decennial Census preparations are underway and many important programs that lead up to Census day are ramping up. One of the important Census preparation programs that is starting now are Complete Count Committees. These committees have played a major role in raising awareness of the Census and encouraging people to fill out and turn in their Census questionnaire since 1980. Complete Count Committees are volunteer groups who aim to increase awareness and motivate people to respond to the Decennial Census. As such, these committees are generally organized to reach out to hard-to-count populations who have the most to lose with an under count.
A successful and accurate count of the Decennial Census is important for state and local governments as many federally funded programs use the population counts to allocate funding. An under count can negatively impact NM budgets for important programs like Medicaid, SNAP, highways & transportation, education & childcare programs, and affordable housing programs. The report “Counting for Dollars 2020: The Role of the Decennial Census in the Geographic Distribution of Federal Funds” by George Washington University (https://gwipp.gwu.edu/counting-dollars-2020-role-decennial-census-geographic-distribution-federal-funds) shows that New Mexico federal funding received is $2,972 per capita based on Fiscal Year 2015. Each New Mexican not counted results in a loss of funds at that amount every year over the next decade. The Constitutional goal for the Decennial Census is an accurate population count used for voting districts. Bottom line accurate Decennial Census counts are very important for budgets, social impact and economic research.
Every Decennial Census has had different obstacles to overcome and the 2020 Census is shaping up to have its own unique set of challenges. The 2020 Census has been designed to be conducted online. People will additionally have the option to respond by mail or by phone, but emphasis will encourage online responses. It is imperative for complete count committees to educate New Mexicans, especially in hard-to-count population areas, about the different formats for responding and the benefits of filling out a Census survey.
This year complete count committee formations will start with local governments, nonprofits, businesses, and activist groups. Local governments can start by doing resolutions. Other groups who are interested in being part of the complete count committees can reach out to the US Census Partnership program both on the national level at www.census.gov/partners and in our region at www.census.gov/about/regions/denver/partners.html. The Census Bureau can provide training, organization suggestions, tools to identify hard to count populations, guidance in setting up activities, new data product information, Census 101 presentation and host of other support. This program is just beginning to set up.
As a member of the US Census State Data Center program, UNM Bureau of Business and Economic Research (UNMBBER) Data Bank staff is happy to assist Complete Count Committees, too. An accurate count improves UNMBBER’s ability to conduct research based on accurate social demographic, and economic characteristics of New Mexico.
Helpful Complete Count Committee Links: