By Lynda L. Jones,
Milwaukee kicked off one of its efforts to help prepare people for the 2010 Census with a rally that was held on Monday, March 1, 2010 at the Italian Conference Center. The event featured entertainment with music and a skit performed by students from the Milwaukee High School of the Arts demonstrating the pitfalls of being under counted for the census.
Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Mayor Tom Barrett and Common Council president Willie Hines, Jr. also participated in the event.
Congresswoman Moore informed the crowd that the city of Milwaukee was the 32 most under counted city in the last census ten years ago. During the last census Milwaukee had a 68 percent response rate, Wisconsin had a 75 percent response rate and a Congressional seat was lost.
“The census is a count of everyone residing in the United States. All U.S residents must be counted, it doesn’t matter if you are a citizen or not. Each person represents $1200.00 per year that is $12,000.00 for the next decade. When a person is not counted, that is money that our city and state misses out on.” Moore stated.
Throughout the rally various facts were shared regarding the importance of participating in the census count.
Census day is April 1, 2010. Questionnaire responses should represent the household as it exists on this day. More detailed socioeconomic information will be collected annually from a small percentage of the population through the American Community Survey.
Census questionnaires will be delivered or mailed to households via U.S. Mail in March 2010; many households will receive a replacement questionnaire in early April. Census workers also will visit households that do not return the questionnaires.
The U.S. Constitution requires a national census once every 10 years. The census will show state population counts and determine representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. Being under counted in the last census is how Milwaukee lost one seat.
Every year, the federal government can allocate more than $300 billion to states and communities based, in part, on census data.
Increased population in the census will result in more accurate data that media outlets can trust and share with the public in articles and reports.
Census information helps determine locations for schools, roads, hospitals, job training, child-care and senior citizen centers, and more.
Also, it was emphasized that the information collected with the census is not shared information, it is for the census count and that is all that it can be used for.
Milwaukee Branch NAACP president Jerry Ann Hamilton, said that she was speaking to African Americans directly during her presentation at Monday’s rally. “Be counted, take that 10 minutes and fill out the questionnaire. Stop worrying about your information being out. It already is! If you have a cell phone, your information is out! ‘Yes We Count’ is the NAACP’s effort in getting the needed participation in the census. We cannot afford to be under counted as African Americans, especially in these times. This count will be something that we must live with for the next decade.”