Governor Inslee to formally launch the state's 2020 Census effort
Governor Jay Inslee will launch Washington’s effort to ensure a fair and accurate census in 2020 on Monday, October 8, 2018, 2–5:30 p.m., at the Brockey Center of South Seattle College. Gov Insleewill open the inaugural meeting of the statewide Complete Count Committee, composed of more than 30 representatives from the private, nonprofit, and public sectors across the state. Under the leadership of former Governor and former Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, the Washington State Complete Count Committee will provide high-level, high-visibility leadership to efforts intended to:
- Explain why it is important to ensure that everyone in Washington is counted.
- Build community awareness of and trust in the Census.
- Encourage the state’s diverse communities to participate in the education, promotion and counting process.
The 2020 Census will determine the number of Congressional representatives that Washington state gets and will help draw boundaries for every level of government down to the school districts. Importantly, it will also produce data that will be used for the next decade by federal, state and local government agencies for planning and delivering education, economic development and employment, health and transportation services. With every decennial census, certain population groups—characterized as hard to locate, contact, interview and/or persuade—tend to be undercounted. Often, the most vulnerable populations make up the undercounted, meaning that, for the next decade, they are not adequately factored into decision-making related to representation and resource distribution.
Washington is committed to ensuring that evryone counts. But, it also shares the concerns of past directors of the Census Bureau in a Washington Post op-ed, “The 2020 Census faces unprecedented challenges in collecting data, including fear of government authorities in immigrant communities, cybersecurity threats (real or perceived) and uneven access to reliable Internet service, which could disadvantage rural, low-income and older households.”
In 2015, census data directed $13.7 billion of federal funds to Washington, which translated into about $1,914 per capita. Census estimates also determine the allocation of approximately $200 million dollars to counties and cities from the state general fund annually. Businesses use census data to decide where to build factories, offices and stores, which creates jobs. Developers use the census to build new homes and revitalize old neighborhoods. Local governments use the census for public safety and emergency preparedness. Citizen organizations rely on census data to identify community needs, request and fund programs, monitor trends and assess program effectiveness. Residents use the census to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality-of-life and consumer advocacy.
The census only comes along once every 10 years – and the data it collects will influence decision-making for the next 10 years. Washington has a vested interested in getting it right and ensuring everyone counts.