A federal court has recently extended the count to October 31, but you should complete it well before then if you have not already done so. While the information you provide in census forms is private for 72 years, the aggregate data is crucial for many parts of American life.
Here are some reasons you should complete the census:
1. It’s constitutional: Part of Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution reads:
“The actual Enumeration [of the population] shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.”
Being counted in the census is not just a legal requirement for all people living in the USA; it is a way we participate in the constitutional order set up by the Founders.
2. It affects your representation in Congress and the NC legislature: If you followed the link to the Constitution above, you would have found that Article 1, Section 2 deals with representation in the House of Representatives. That original purpose of the census is still hugely important today. North Carolina fell just 15,700 residents short (out of a population of 9.5 million) of getting a 14th congressional district in 2010. While we are projected to get that 14th seat this time around, a severe undercount in the census could jeopardize that.
It also affects how congressional and state districts are drawn. The General Assembly will draw districts next year. If people fail to complete their census forms, they and their communities will be underrepresented in Raleigh and Washington compared to areas where most people complete the census.
3. It helps businesses plan and thrive: Business use census population data to help determine where to go to reach underserved markets or find niche markets:
If your company buys, or perhaps even does its own, market research, chances are that the basis of that research is census data. Few surveys get even close to the quantity or quality of data produced from the census.
By helping provide accurate information about your community, you are providing businesses with the data they need to grow and hire new workers.
4. It affects the distribution of federal funds: While the census does not directly affect entitlement programs (which are based on individual applications). It does influence the formulas used to distribute federal assistance programs and grants to states. As they are not entitlements, the amount spent in those programs is set by Congress, so an undercount in North Carolina does not save any taxpayer money since those funds would simply go to other states that did not have an undercount.
Bonus reason: say hello to your descendants: While your information will remain private for 72 years, once it does become public, it could serve as a resource for your descendants to learn more about your life.
What you can do: If you have not already completed the census questionnaire, click this link and complete it today.