The prospect of counting every person in a country as expansive as ours might seem, especially in the planning stages, like an earth-to-the-moon endeavor. It’s certainly no small feat.
But every 10 years, census workers across the nation manage a seeming avalanche of numbers to enumerate the ever-expanding U.S. population. It’s a tally our Constitution requires.
The population totals from the census determine an area’s representation in Congress, and also the direction in which money from all manner of federal spending programs will flow.
It’s important for many reasons for cities and states to achieve accurate — read: complete — counts during next year’s decennial census.
In Roswell, that effort is taking shape. Last week, the city’s Census 2020 Complete Count Committee held another meeting, this one at the library downtown, to coordinate efforts focused on next year’s census.
The meeting played out the way one would hope: A group of people from varying walks of life gathered to describe what they — and/or the organizations they represent — will contribute to the shared objective of counting everyone here.
Jacqueline Diego, partnership specialist with the Dallas Regional Census Center, provided an overview of plans for the 2020 census. County and Roswell Independent School District representatives described their plans.
Promoting the importance of being counted by disseminating information through the schools, which bring together so many local residents, is a new move this census, and a smart one.
That idea was one of several discussed last week that bode well for Roswell’s population being fully counted.
There are challenges to overcome, but also some help in addressing them this time out, thanks to technology, like the ability to respond online.
Strategies are being discussed for reaching segments of the community it’s believed were under-counted in the past, such as parts of the local Hispanic community that might be reluctant to participate because of uncertainty about the process.
But this reminder is a constant one: Data collected during the census is confidential. The purpose of this process is simply to count everyone.
It’s important. As we’ve written about on this page — and as has been much-discussed elsewhere — the city is on the cusp of an important population number, 50,000, which many think it will reach with a complete count. Our current estimated population is 47,635.
In addition to representation and spending by government, census totals are used as part of the community profiles that business and industry leaders evaluate when determining whether to invest in new markets.
State Rep. Phelps Anderson told the Daily Record a few months back, “For the next decade of growth and success in our community, we must move forward as a city of 50,000 inhabitants.”
There’s nothing romantic about a census count — it’s all about the numbers and the shared work that goes into recording them, community by community.
But if descriptions of the process itself fail to stir the imagination, consider again the purpose behind it all: Leverage within the machinery of government, through representation, along with the effectiveness of any number of programs, depend on this.
There’s the continued growth of business and industry as well.
It means reaching everyone, counting everyone, something that will require coming together as a community around a common goal.
We won’t know until the count is completed whether the numbers are there. But the organization in place so far indicates the effort will be.