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Census 2020 Preparations Underway

July 9, 2019 | More News

The reasons for Census counts are varied, but ultimately it goes back to the idea of “one person, one vote.”

To preserve our individual voting rights, the Census informs the process of dividing the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives among the 50 states. The Census also is used in determining federal funding allocations to state and local governments, at a rate of nearly $2,000 per person. This ensures that services, such as Medicaid and Medicare, SNAP benefits, Sections 8 housing, school lunch programs, and Head Count, reach those who need them.

Preparation for the 2020 Census has been in the works for the last few years, and Knoxville-Knox County Planning has participated in the local initiative. Planning staff led the Block Boundary Suggestion Program and the Local Update of Census Addresses operations to prepare for the upcoming survey. They reviewed area boundaries and local addresses, and identified housing units and group quarters to ensure that all residential addresses are included in the census.

Through this review, $14.5 million in federal allocations was identified that otherwise would have been lost. 

In addition to these mapping exercises, Planning staff looked at three socio-economic characteristics that are the best predictors of low response to the census survey. Those are renters, young adults, and families with unmarried female heads of households. Recognizing these characteristics is a critical step in identifying hard-to-survey areas of the community and, when plugged into the Census Bureau’s Response Outreach Area Mapper, will help create a tailored communication campaign. Planning staff are participating in the local Complete Count Committee that is leading the outreach effort.

This preparation is important not just for the sake of a complete count, but also to accurately inform planning processes.

Census data impact the work of federal, state, and local government, including that of Knoxville-Knox County Planning. It informs community plans, transportation planning, technical reports, and external requests we get for local demographic information from citizens, non-profits, business owners, elected officials, and more.