Letters to Lawmakers | June 28, 2019

Letter to Congress: Business Urges Funding for 2020 Census

The following letter, which was sent to members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, contains more than 70 signatories from a range of companies and business membership organizations calling for adequate funding in the Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations Bills to bolster 2020 Census planning.

June 18, 2019

Dear Chairman Shelby, Vice Chairman Leahy, Chairwoman Lowey, and Ranking Member Granger:

As American business leaders, we are writing to express our support for sufficient funding for the 2020 Census. We include members of the Business for the 2020 Census Task Force in addition to executives and senior leaders from major companies as well as 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 data it produces is critical to informing decision-making in both the public and private sectors. Specifically, it provides businesses with vital demographic information about customers, the workforce and economic landscape used by companies of all sizes across industries. Population data from the census helps companies assess concentrations of skilled workers, neighborhoods to open a new store or office, and what products or services to offer in a particular location. Census data also guides the efficient allocation of hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to states and localities 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 indeed of interest to business.

Although we are grateful for the increased support the 20 20 Census received in Fiscal Year 2019, there is a substantial risk of an inaccurate count without proper funding in Fiscal Year 2020. 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 next year. 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 receives $8.45 billion in Fiscal Year 2020, with at least $7.5 billion in direct funding for 2020 Census operations. This request is consistent with historical trends showing that the amount of funding needed in the fiscal year in which the Census takes place is at least twice the funding level of the prior fiscal year.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

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