The City of Milton Common Council voted Aug. 6 to explore forming a US Census Complete Count Committee (CCC). The committee would be charged with helping to facilitate a full count of Milton residents during the 2020 Census.
Chicago Regional Census Center Partnership Specialist and Beloit native Jerry Huffman gave council members a presentation about the importance of gathering complete population counts within the city, saying the more complete the counts, the more accurate the apportionment of federal aid.
Huffman said his job was to partner with nine counties, Rock County among them, to ensure a complete count in their respective communities.
“Up for grabs,” he said, is $675 billion in federal aid.
According to Huffman, two items are determined through apportionment: legislative representation and the annual distribution of federal aid.
“This matters. I can’t emphasis this enough,” Huffman said.
The purpose of the committee is to engage every city resident to make sure they are included within population counts, he said.
April 1 is “Census day.” To count everyone, Huffman said, committees and Census employees should work to hit key milestones. This month, he said, in-field address canvassing starts. By the end of March, 2020, the “self-response period begins.”
By late April through August of 2020, nonresponse follow-ups will be conducted. Apportionment counts are delivered to the President of the Unites States on Dec. 31, he said.
Describing what he termed “critical steps,” Huffman urged city council to partner with the US Census Bureau and appoint a Census liaison. He asked for help with recruiting residents to fill Census jobs, and suggested that the mayor should write a letter to the Census regional director asking for training for CCC members.
Huffman said previous Census data show that there are locations and socioeconomic groups that are traditionally hard to count. Part of the committee’s work would be identifying those specific groups within Milton.
Part of what makes counting everyone hard, Huffman said, is a lack of trust by some to share their data with the government. He said the Census keeps data for 72 years.
“We treat it like it’s sacred,” he said, adding that there were so many layers of security on his laptop that it took eight minutes to open it.
A goal of the committee is to provide trusted voices as Census ambassadors, Huffman said.
According to Huffman, 82 percent of the population in Wisconsin responded to the 2010 Census. Eighty percent responded in Milton.
Said Huffman: “That number is good, but it means we left 20 percent on the table. That’s costing you money.
“If you get that number up by 5 percent, that’s millions.
“We want to help Milton get every cent it’s entitled to, but we need the help of Milton to make that happen.”
While different geographical locations have different “hard to count” populations, Huffman said, a basic list includes: Children under 5, college students, farm workers, homeless, immigrants, language constrained, Millennials, minorities, people living in poverty, people with disabilities, refugees, renters, snowbirds, senior citizens, veterans, and young adults between the ages of 18 and 24.
To help engage these groups, he said, CCCs should tap community- and immigrant-based organizations, cultural programs and centers, and faith-based institutions.
According to Huffman, the following types of people should be included on a CCC: a county-level executive, a mayor, K-12 representative, media, social services, regional associations, a faith-based community member, university or college representative, members of business and professional associations, a library representative, and community organizations and nonprofits.
Objectives might include: monitoring Census participation, targeting outreach efforts to low-response areas, collaborating with other resources to support the main goals, and collaborating with the regional director and partnership specialist for training and support.
The US Census Bureau is hiring across the nation, Huffman said. Jobs paying between $14 and $16 per hour, both part-time and fulltime, are open to anybody over the age of 18. An FBI background check is also required.
Those interested in jobs should contact the US Census at 2020census.gov/jobs.
In a follow-up interview Milton Administrative Services Director Inga Cushman said that while staff was directed to explore forming a committee, how that committee might be set up, and in what manner volunteers might be appointed, was still being evaluated.
Further information would be forthcoming at a future council meeting, she said.
Those interested in becoming a CCC volunteer can contact Cushman: 608-868-6900, ext. 5.