DENVER (CBS4) - Getting an accurate Census count is critical because the tally can determine everything from Colorado's representation in Congress to how many billions of federal dollars we receive. The 2020 count starts in just months, and the Bureau is laying the groundwork now.
Currently, workers with the U.S. Census Denver Regional Office are taking part in address canvassing. The door-to-door visits, in neighborhoods less than ten-years-old, are the first major field operation of the 2020 Census.
The Census Bureau's website shows the areas workers are canvassing in green.
"What they're doing, in preparation for next year, is knocking on the door, verifying are there any other living residents here?" said Cathy Lacy, Regional Director of the U.S. Census Denver Regional Office. "We have unique situations now for the city of Denver, and really across the country, so you may have additional units that may have been added. We need to make sure we cover that in our address list."
It's no secret, Colorado is growing rapidly with new development, and with all that growth comes change.
"So, if this part is not done correctly, the Census count will not be correct," Lacy said.
The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census of the population be conducted once every 10 years. The data helps decide representation in Congress, along with how more than $675 billion in federal funds are distributed back to states and local communities.
"Do you have enough schools? Do you have enough infrastructure for your community? Do you have enough hospitals? Do you have enough elderly care units?" Lacy asked.
This year, the Bureau is also using satellite imagery to identify and count new neighborhoods. Workers are able to compare images over time, making new housing developments and changes in existing homes easier to find.
"We were able to verify 65% of addresses using satellite imagery — a massive accomplishment for us," said Census Bureau Geography Division Chief Deirdre Bishop. "In 2010 we had to hire 150,000 people to verify 100% of the addresses in the field. This decade we will only have to hire about 40,000 employees around the nation to verify the remaining 35% of addresses."
Next year, uniformed workers will ask the same basic questions as before. The nine questions include address verification, people in the household, race, and gender. Census workers will never ask for a credit card number or Social Security number.
"It might just be nine questions, but those are the building blocks for planning for tomorrow," Lacy said.
In 2020, you'll also have several new options of how you can respond to the Census. In March, most people will receive an invitation to respond by mail, over the phone, or online.
The Bureau is also concerned with parent participation because an estimated five percent of kids under the age of five were not counted in the 2010 Census. The estimate, of around one million uncounted young children, is the highest of any age group.
On Sept. 24 and 25 the U.S. Census Bureau will hold an Early Childhood Summit in Denver to highlight the importance of counting children in the 2020 Census. The summit will take place at the History Colorado Center.
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