As the last month of 2019 begins, the U.S. Census Bureau is already gathering community support for the 2020 census.
The first meeting of the Complete Count Committee in McFarland was held Wednesday, Nov. 20, to plan part-time job recruitment efforts and begin outreach programs for the village.
Former community development director Pauline Bonness was selected as the committee chairperson.
The CCC’s goal is to encourage people to participate, educate them about the census and encourage completion of the census. The committee is made up of McFarland residents who are members of the village staff, McFarland Food Pantry, churches and faith organizations, school board, the chamber of commerce and other community organizations.
The U.S. census has been completed once every 10 years since 1790 to count every person living in the U.S. The 2020 census will be conducted April 1, 2020.
The census helps determine how federal funds, grands and support will be distributed to communities. Since the last census, $675 million was distributed nationally for community functions, such as roads, school lunches and foster care.
Wisconsin ranks first for highest response rate in the nation. The national average is 74 percent. Wisconsin has an average response rate of 82 percent.
McFarland residents are above both the national and state averages, with an 88 percent response rate in 2010 and a 92 percent response rate in 2000.
Census experts predict another drop in response rates in the 2020 census as people are becoming increasingly accustomed to requests for survey responses from various organizations and more concerned about sharing personal information.
2020 Census-Wisconsin senior partnership specialist Becky Shigiel gave a presentation to the McFarland CCC at the first meeting.
She explained that many groups of people are underrepresented in the census, including veterans, refugees, homeless people, renters, college students and language restrained citizens.
Every person living in the U.S. should be counted on the census, even babies born April 1, 2020. Among the underrepresented groups are children.
“We know a significant amount of them did not show up on anybody’s census form,” Shigiel said.
Another group often unaccounted for are the elderly.
“Senior Outreach is committed to making sure seniors and those living in lower income brackets, minorities, disabled people and LGBTQ are counted too,” Senior Outreach Services director Lori Andersen said. “Many of the Dane County funded programs that support seniors in the community, including McFarland Senior Outreach case management services and our nutrition program, are based on population formulas. As people continue to age in place, these services are critical in making sure seniors live their best quality of life.”
Those with multiple addresses, such as a college student, should be counted at the location where they spend most of the year. Children living equally between two households should be counted at the location they are living at April 1.
By law, information shared on the census cannot be shared with immigration enforcement agencies, law enforcement agencies, agencies that determine government benefits or any other government agency.
Beginning on March 12, 2020, every home address will receive an invitation to participate in the census, which can be completed via mail, internet or phone.
The U.S. Census Bureau is currently recruiting for temporary part-time jobs. Residents are asked to apply to become census takers, recruiting assistants or office clerical persons. Applications for the McFarland area and more information can be found at 2020census.gov/jobs.