Census in the CNMI begs the question: What is the CNMI?
Few people remember that America governs offshore territories other than vacation favorite Puerto Rico. One such territory is the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in the South Pacific, population 88,662 (so long as the Census Bureau got it right last time…). Supported primarily by its tourism industry, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands receives a significant amount of annual aid from America. The Saipan Tribune (the Mariana’s daily newspaper) just reported that the Census Bureau will be allocating $4.6 million for census-taking efforts in 2010, a 31% increase over the $3.5 million for Census 2000. Those are your tax dollars and stimulus money hard at work…10,000 miles away. Here’s the full story:
The CNMI’s proposed budget for the 2010 census is approximately $4.6 million, a 31 percent increase from roughly $3.5 million for Census 2000, according to the Department of Commerce.
John Blanco, director of Commerce’s Central Statistics Division, told Saipan Tribune yesterday that although the money has yet to arrive, preliminary planning has already begun between CSD and the U.S. Census Bureau.
The census is a count of everyone residing in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the CNMI and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Census 2000 put the CNMI’s population count at 69,221, from only 43,345 during Census 1990.
The first Census was conducted in 1790 and has been carried out every 10 years since then.
In the CNMI and elsewhere in the nation, Census 2010 day is set for April 1, 2010.
Blanco said Commerce is expected to hire the managerial team by Oct. 1, consisting of some 17 positions that include a local census office manager, an assistant manager for field operations, a partnership/media specialist, an assistant manager for office operations and an assistant manager for administration.
“The bulk of the hires, though, which will number around 300 strong at its peak, will not occur until early in 2010,” Blanco said.
When the Census 2010 team reaches full swing, it expects to have 242 field staff, consisting of enumerators, crew leaders, crew leader assistants and field operation supervisors hitting the field by April 1, 2010.
The 178 enumerators will begin training on March 22, 2010.
Blanco said that now more than ever, the CNMI is in need of current statistical data besides the federal government requirements that a census be conducted.
“Our own public and private sectors have been clamoring for more recent population data, given the tremendous turn of events we have witnessed since the last decennial census. Also, given that the CNMI was unable to conduct its own mid-decade census back in 2005 due mostly to budget constraints, this full census of the Northern Marianas is, for all intents and purposes, long overdue and greatly welcomed,” he said.
Census information helps local and federal leaders to make more informed decisions. Businesses rely on the data to gauge the investment climate of the CNMI, or to decide whether the population of a village can support the opening of a business in their respective communities. Grant writers use census information in their respective papers.
“This is just a few of the many reasons why the census is so important not only to our nation, but our islands as well,” Blanco added.