My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Cities starting Census outreach efforts

As we told you last month, the Pew Charitable Trust found that major cities are behind in their outreach and awareness preparations for the 2010 Census.

That’s changing now.

Philadelphia, which was at the center of the Pew study, took a step toward those outreach efforts earlier today, when Mayor Michael Nutter announced an executive director for Philly Counts, the city’s Census-awareness campaign. Patricia Enright, a current Nutter aide, will assume that position.

That appointment came just days after Detroit officials announced plans to use volunteers and community organizers to help with outreach and making sure all citizens are counted.

Making sure all citizens are counted is a top priority in cities like Philly and Detroit, which have seen significant population loss in recent years. From 2000 to 2008, both cities ranked in the top five for the greatest decrease in the number of residents.

As the 2010 Census will determine federal and state funding based on a city’s population, there’s a lot of incentive for cities — especially those with declining populations — to put forth great effort in making sure all of their residents get counted.

Readers, what’s going on in your city? Are Census-awareness efforts already under way? How effective do you think they will be?

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4 Responses to “Cities starting Census outreach efforts”

  1. Hermes Says:

    In Milwaukee, efforts are now beginning to roll out. For example, there is now a website:

    Milwaukee is taking this very seriously because we were significantly under-counted in the last Census, and therefore lost an Assembly seat that, in actuality, we should still have. We have to do a better job this time.

    Also, I have heard that for each person we fail to count, we lose approximately 800 to 1,000 Federal dollars, per year. So, if we were to under-count by, say, 30,000 people, that would cost us on the order of three-hundred-million dollars over the next 10 years.

  2. Anonymous CL Says:

    Hermes wrote: “Also, I have heard that for each person we fail to count, we lose approximately 800 to 1,000 Federal dollars, per year.”

    I heard recently that the current estimate is even more, average of $1400 per person. Perhaps it varies by region or by method of estimating, or perhaps the lower number is from an earlier decennial.

  3. Peter Wagner Says:

    There is no doubt that a complete and accurate count matters.

    But my research suggests that the above estimates would be high. The $800-$1400 per person per year figure sounds about right, if you are looking at funds that are distributed “in part” by Census figures and dividing that by the population of the country. But that’s probably not a good way to do it.

    Portions of many federal grant programs are distributed by measures other than population, including amounts guaranteed by past distribution formulas or, as in the case of the highway funds, Congressional priorities. Further, many of the federal programs use population as only *one* factor among many in determining the size of the allocation.

    The largest federal grant programs are grants to states, so while I think the $800-$1400 per person per year figure is on the high side as an estimate of the fiscal impact of the Census, states are the entity that has the greatest incentive to improve its count.

  4. My Two Census » Blog Archive » Find local Census resources Says:

    [...] already written about why Census outreach is such a big deal to cities and states. Both the Census Bureau and local governments seem to be making an effort to develop [...]