County governments can review and provide updates to the Census Bureau’s master list of addresses for the 2020 Census
The decennial census is an integral part of American democracy. In fact, it is constitutionally mandated. Every decade, the U.S. Census Bureau is required to conduct the census. While many are aware that the census serves to collect data on population information, some may not know of the many uses of the data.
For counties and their residents, the data can serve essential functions such as apportioning representation, determining eligibility for federal programs and allocating approximately $600 billion dollars a year in federal funding.
At the local level, it is used to draw voting precincts, school districts and legislative districts. Programs like the American Community Survey rely on decennial census information to improve the accuracy and quality of their data. Public and private entities alike rely on ACS and decennial census data to help drive important decisions like where to start a new business, or where the next school may be needed.
Although it serves many critical functions, participation in the census has declined in recent decades. To maintain high-quality data, it is important that all levels of government encourage their constituents to participate. Counties may assist by participating in the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) program.
This program was established to allow local governments to review and provide updates to the U.S. Census Bureau’s master list of addresses in advance of the 2020 Census. To participate, the highest elected official in the county needs to return completed LUCA forms to the U.S. Census Bureau by Dec. 15.
Population levels and demographics are ever changing. Local government leaders live in the communities they serve, and interact with their residents every day. Thus, they have an active heartbeat of their community and can provide accurate information to the U.S. Census Bureau, which would otherwise be difficult and costly to collect. Incorrect information, such as an undercounted population, can have negative consequences that may last a decade.
As the 2020 Census nears, counties can also engage federal representatives to explain the significance of the census to their communities. By working closely together with the federal government, county governments can ensure that the U.S. Census Bureau has the support it needs to fulfill its mandate.