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The 2020 Census: Why It Matters

Jul 10, 2019

I recently had a meeting with leaders from a local community to talk through their priorities.  At the top of their list, the 2020 Census.  It didn’t surprise me, but I remember thinking this should be a top priority for the entire state.  Since that meeting, I have seen a number of newspaper articles highlighting the importance of the census.

One article summed it up as Michigan’s opportunity to get money and power.  I don’t disagree.  Congress will, based on the results of the census, distribute over 700 billion dollars to local communities.  In addition, our official population count will determine if we lose another congressional seat or retain all fourteen.  In 1970, Michigan had nineteen congressional seats, but since then, the number has declined.  Given our population trend over the last ten years, we are projected to lose another seat, which would leave us with just thirteen congressional seats.

The connection between losing congressional seats and shrinking influence in Washington D.C. is obvious, but the impact on our most vulnerable citizens is not.  Next year’s census impacts the entire state, but in different ways.  For example, Northern Michigan is aging quickly and services that focus on assisting seniors are being stretched beyond their capacity.  The Detroit News recently wrote an article detailing the challenges of the Traverse City based non-profit Area Agency on Aging of Northwestern Michigan, sharing that Michigan is the twelth oldest state in the nation.

In Metro Detroit they face the challenge of getting an accurate count, as this has been a major problem in the past.  In 2010, the lowest response rate of any major city was in Detroit.  That cost the city millions of dollars, which limited their financial impact on significant issues like education, housing, and seniors.

Currently, there are coordinated efforts throughout the state, and specifically in Detroit, to ensure we count every Michigander regardless of where they live.  The Michigan Nonprofit Association of Michigan is taking the lead with substantial financial assistance from W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Council of Michigan Foundations.

I believe this is an effort everyone should embrace.  We all should volunteer in some capacity to ensure our neighbors, families, and friends complete the 2020 census.  If you are seeking to be more engaged, please visit the Michigan Nonprofit Association of Michigan website at becountedmi2020.com.

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