Why the Census matters more now than ever

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By Sara Mackey

The United States Census requires very little of us, as it occurs only once every 10 years, and takes about 10 minutes to complete. But the results of a successful Census effort are significant. Since this Federal tradition started in 1790, it has been tossed around like a political football, creating uncertainty and spreading myths about its purpose and benefit, especially among residents with undocumented status, leading to undercounting. A recent story by National Public Radio (NPR) puts to rest the many myths and concerns about the Census. 

The ability to measure population shifts; growth and decline around the country, is at least as important now as ever. During this staggering economic and worldwide health crisis, regions in Wisconsin and throughout the U.S. that tend to lack federal support will be that much more in need. At the same time, the deadline has been moved up to September 30, creating some urgency to get full participation.

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If you haven’t already completed the Census for your household, please stop reading and visit this page. If you live in Wisconsin’s rural areas in northern or central Wisconsin, or if you’re a person of color living in an urban Wisconsin area, there’s a good chance you haven’t yet completed the census. "Why should I?," you might ask. Well, areas that are undercounted also tend to be left out of important federal financing, which can leave cities and towns with unwanted economic ripple effects, including wage and education gaps. For students, positive outcomes are at stake, such as qualifying for federal direct student loans, Pell grants, Perkins career and technical education funding and adult student grants. In this way, the Census affects each of us very directly. 

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promotion for census completion
Wisconsin is competing with other states for its share of $675 Billion in federal dollars to help build roads, schools and other services that support our communities, provide jobs and improve opportunities. In short, it can greatly impact our quality of life. If you're curious how Wisconsin stacks up to other states in responding to the Census, you can compare results here. Please, share this post or encourage others to complete the Census so they are seen and counted.

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