Just recently the Census Bureau released the first of its 2010 Census statistics for Washington State. And more information will be forthcoming over the next year.
And that is so important for all of us in Seattle, King County and Washington State. Why get excited? Here are a few reasons why we should all care what it says.
Mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the census is used to apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and to redistrict state legislatures. The first census was done clear back in 1790, by order of Thomas Jefferson. That census still exists and gives an incredible look at our nation shortly after it’s founding.
“The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.”
Today, Census data is used to by all levels of to government to define legislative districts, school districts and other special districts.
Census data is also an essential tool for business owners who use the demographic and economic data gathered to make strategic decisions that can spur and sustain economic development; these include selecting the location of retail stores or facilities, making informed marketing decisions, understanding customer demographics, and more.
And a really big reason… Money!
Every year, the federal government distributes hundreds of billions of dollars to local, state and tribal governments based on census data. These data are used in many ways that can improve the quality of life for all citizens by:
- Helping leaders determine where to build new schools, roads, health care facilities, child-care and senior centers and more.
- Helping fund community initiatives and programs important to immigrants – including education, job safety, English-language programs and enhanced legal services.
- Helping implementation and evaluation of programs, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act.
- Assisting with planning for education, housing, health and other programs that reflect diversity in the community.
And finally, in this short list of reasons for people, especially people interested in family history, to celebrate the 2010 Census: In just 72 years our future family members will be able to look us up in the Census lists, just as we can use Ancestry and other library resources to look at past census rolls (currently up to 1930 with 1940 scheduled to be released next year) and see our grandparents and great grandparents, and where they lived.
More information is being release all through the summer. Look for it!