Yesterday, in rural Toksook Bay, Alaska, the US Census Bureau began its dauntingtask of counting every living person in the United States, DC, and five US territories. Starting around March 12th households should begin receiving official mail from the Census Bureau with information on how to respond. Except for hard to reach areas of Alaska, which are done door to door, census data is collected by phone, mail, and for the first time in history, they will be using electronic questionnaires for the 2020 Census.
The Census is done every 10 years and was originally mandated by the US Constitution. The first census ever taken was in 1790 immediately following the American Revolution and headed up by the then Secretary of the State, Thomas Jefferson. There are a lot of concerns about giving up this data by law the individual data is to be sealed for a period of 72 years. In fact, in 1980 the FBI once attempted to seize records only to be turned away with the Courts upholding that no agency other than the US Census Bureau has access to the data.
Great, so why is a Commercial Real Estate Broker writing a blog about the 2020 Census? This data is used in a number of ways that greatly impact Northwest Indiana. Soon this data will be used to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding and will also gerrymander, I mean, redraw our electoral districts. The population of our state will determine how many members of congress represent Indiana in the House of Representatives.
The importance of this new census data to our economy is vast. Businesses use this information to make informed decisions on where to locate. Every major employer uses this “demographic data” to determine where they might locate a new factory, restaurant, office complex, hospital, etc. For example, when Amazon’s HQ2 RFP went out they established a list of requirements that included population requirements, proximity to their skilled labor force, labor rate information, and many other factors that can only be determined by such a study.
While there are many companies, such as ESRI (an international supplier of geographic information system (GIS) software) that estimate this data annually using complex algorithms. They all use the census survey as the backbone of their data. So if you want that fancy new grocer in your town, make sure you take the time to fill out the survey. For more information on the study visit 2020census.gov.