How businesses, communities, government use census information

May 10, 2019 GMT

Not long after the United States gained its independence in 1776, the first census was performed in 1790 by members of the U.S. Marshals Service.

While many things have changed since then, the founding fathers placed a mandate in the Constitution, Article 1, Section 2, that a population count be completed every 10 years. It’s been a bedrock of this country that determines how cities, towns and counties operate.

For instance:

• Communities rely on census statistics to plan for a variety of resident needs including new roads, schools and emergency services;

• Businesses use census

information to determine where to open places to shop;

• It also determines how many representatives each state gets in Congress and that has major implications on where federal dollars end up.

U.S. Census Bureau Partnership Specialist Luis Cardenas Camacho, during a recent presentation to the Lake Havasu City’s Complete Count Committee, spoke to the importance of the count.

“Arizona added one congressional seat in 2010 and as it stands now, the state is set to gain another seat after 2020 count figures are tabulated,” Camacho said. “If it’s done wrong, Arizona could lose a seat.”

Camacho said the Constitution, Title 13 of the U.S. Code, requires information collected by the Census Bureau to remain confidential.

“Many people have concerns about their information being shared or some of the questions that are on the survey, particularly about citizenship status, but those records are protected for 72 years and then only for ancestry research,” Camacho said. “We have never had a breach of information. Our computers are heavily encrypted.

“It takes me 20 to 30 minutes to log in to my computer every day because of how well everyone is protected,” Camacho said.

Camacho explained that the information given by respondents in each form is used only to produce statistics.

“We cannot publicly release your responses in any way that could identify you,” he said. “We will never share your information with immigration enforcement or law enforcement agencies, or allow it to be used to determine eligibility for government benefits.”

While the Census Bureau gets most of its attention every 10 years, it performs an economic census once every five years that provides important stats for virtually every industry and geographic area in the country.

Also, the Census of Governments, which is also done once every five years, provides information about the 90,000 state and local governments in the U.S.

The Census Bureau also does surveys about communities, demographics, economics, health, and college graduates. They all are intended to provide a picture of what communities look like and how they are doing.

Scott Shindledecker may be reached at 928-453-4237, ext. 252, or at sshindledecker@havasunews.com.