Census Editorial from the Baltimore Sun
The Counting Crows have a classic song called Raining in Baltimore, but today, it’s raining 2010 Census talk in Baltimore:
In Baltimore and across Maryland, preparations for the 2010 census are already under way, and the outcome is critical because the count will be used to decide where to invest billions for everything from mass transit to economic redevelopment and health services. In just a year – on April 1, 2010 – the effort to locate more than 5.8 million Marylanders in 2.2 million households will peak with a door-to-door survey of the state.
An accurate count is vital also because it sets the stage for political redistricting necessary to uphold the principal of equal political representation and for Maryland to receive its fair share of federal aid. In the last fiscal year, Maryland received more than $5.8 billion in federal formula-based grants. That’s more than $1,000 for every person in the state. An undercount of as little as 100,000 of the state’s residents would translate to a loss of $4 billion in federal revenue over the next 10 years.
Getting a good measure is particularly critical in urban areas such as Baltimore where people are hard to count and poverty can lead to extra housing, health and education assistance. In 2007, the Census Bureau estimated that Baltimore had 637,455 residents, but the city challenged that number and eventually won an adjustment to 640,150. Those 2,695 extra people netted the state an additional $5.4 million in federal aid.
To ensure the best possible count, more than 1,000 census workers will be canvassing Maryland later this year to verify the mailing list for census questionnaires that will go out next March. Next April’s door-to-door canvas will be led by 6,500 temporary Census Bureau employees whose efforts will supplemented by schools, churches and community organizations distributing census educational materials.