Letters to Lawmakers | November 27, 2018

Letter to Congress: Business Leaders Urge Funding for 2020 Census

The following letter, which was sent to members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, contains more than 50 signatures of business leaders calling for adequate funding in the FY19 Appropriations Bills to bolster 2020 Census planning.

November 27, 2018

Dear Chairman Shelby, Vice Chairman Leahy, Chairman Frelinghuysen, and Ranking Member Lowey:

As American business leaders, we are writing to express our support for sufficient funding for the 2020 Census. We include members of the National Business Leader Task Force for an Accurate Census, business executives, and leaders from national, state, and local business membership organizations. We are united in our conviction that a reliable 2020 Census is critical for American enterprise.

The U.S. Constitution mandates a count of all residents every ten years. The census is a crucial tool that provides information about the characteristics of the population that no other survey produces. Accurate data from the decennial count is critical to informing decision-making in both the private and public sectors.

Specifically, the census provides businesses with vital demographic information about customers, the workforce and the economic landscape that is used by companies of all sizes in virtually every industry sector. Population data from the census helps companies assess concentrations of skilled workers, neighborhoods to open a new store or office, and what products to offer. Census data also guides the efficient allocation of taxpayer dollars. Each year, the federal government directs billions of dollars to states and localities for programs that contribute to a strong economy, such as education, workforce development, transportation and housing. Moreover, census data is used to ensure appropriate political representation at the local, state and federal levels, which is of interest to business.

Although we are grateful for the increased support the 2020 Census received in Fiscal Year 2018, there is a substantial risk of an inaccurate count without proper funding. In particular, the 2020 Census will be the first decennial survey conducted primarily online. We applaud the Census Bureau’s commitment to reducing costs by utilizing technology, but with the cancellation of multiple field tests, it is unclear whether that technology will function properly. As a result, adequate funds are needed to bolster communications, marketing and community partnership efforts to encourage all individuals to complete their census forms. We also urge the Bureau to ensure that proper measures are in place to secure data after it is collected.

An unreliable 2020 Census would have harmful effects on businesses and the American economy that would persist into the future. We respectfully ask that you prioritize funding for this fundamental civic responsibility by ensuring that the U.S. Census Bureau has at least $3.648 billion to spend on census operations in Fiscal Year 2019. This amount includes what the U.S. Department of Commerce said it will need in its revised cost estimate for the fiscal year, as well as additional funding to support the necessary communication, marketing, and partnership efforts described above.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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