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United States 2020 Census nearing finish line (and why it matters)

Out of the 248 Census Offices across the United States, Santa Clarita, known as Area Census Office (ACO) 3285, is host to one of Los Angeles County’s 40-plus Area Offices. Although this local office has been in Santa Clarita on Newhall Ranch Road for approximately a year, its operations are coming to a close. A recent press release reported that the Secretary of Commerce announced a target date to conclude 2020 Census self-response and field data collection by Oct. 5.

Due to the COVID-19 delay, will the Census be able to complete its count in time?

With the current pandemic and the continual change in 2020 Census operations, the White House Office of Management and Budget submitted an additional request for $1 billion more in funding to meet their deadline. This additional funding went to hiring additional enumerators, incentifying those enumerators to work diligently and for additional outreach and advertising. 

One important fact to take note of is the number of people the Census has employed each week during the pandemic when there was a 14.6% unemployment rate in California and 11.1% in all of the United States as of June, due to required business shutdowns as stated by USA Today.

During the height of hiring, over 288,000 people had been employed in this temporary position across the U.S. These numbers can be viewed each week by going to 2020census.gov.

According to Donald Bendz, Media Coordinator for the U.S. Census Bureau, here’s how they met these time constraints:

“We simply brought on more enumerators, those are the people who go door to door, so we just made up for the time by putting more people to work… Once we reach a certain phase of our operation, which we have, we then take some census takers and we can send them to some other offices across our southern state region.”

Donald Bendz, U.S. Census Media Coordinator

With the counting process moving faster than usual with the hiring of more enumerators, the Santa Clarita ACO has been able to send out some of its workers to offices across the southern state region.

Why should I respond to the 2020 Census?

It is required by law to complete the Census if you live anywhere in the United States or its five territories. The good news is there is still time to go online and complete the Census for your household. Patricia Ramos, Media Specialist for the U.S. Census Bureau, is encouraging people to complete their applications for the Census. 

 “…it’s very important that if people know for a fact that their household has not responded to the 2020 census, and it doesn’t matter if the people who live in that house if they’re family members or not, they could all be roommates they don’t have to be related, but if the household has not responded, it’s important to respond now to the Census,” she said.

Patricia Ramos, U.S. Census Media Specialist

 “It’s really imperative that people not wait any longer if they haven’t responded. A lot of benefits for the community (like) being a student for school are pending on getting an accurate count for the population…for people who live in the Santa Clarita Valley, it’s super important. College of the Canyons depends on it. Students who have Pell grants are depending on accurate Census numbers in order to allocate funding for education. It’s really important that people take 10 minutes to reply and respond to the census.”

So while some may feel annoyed by the door-to-door enumerators, they have an important purpose. Not only is this giving them employment during this hard economic time, but it is also helping them gather critical information to help the community receive the benefits it needs for its citizens.

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