Sen. Clarkson: Census matters to Vermonters

By Sen. Alison Clarkson

The Census matters. Two legislative committees were reminded last week of how important the data gleaned from it is for every state.

Each decade since 1790 the U.S. Census Bureau has conducted an every household survey collecting data about our country’s people and the places they live. It is the leading source of quality data about Americans – and influences a major source of revenue to our states.

This data determines how many representatives each state gets in Congress and helps shape our state legislative districts. Communities rely on Census statistics to plan for their needs including roads, schools and emergency services. And businesses use this data to market and to decide where to grow.

Last year, more than $675 billion of our federal tax dollars were distributed to states based on Census data. This data determines how much financial support Vermont receives from many federal programs. Vermont’s FY2020 budget includes over $2 billion in federal dollars (about $4,000 per Vermonter). And a significant percent of that comes to us based on the data derived from the Census.

We see it in money for: transportation, help for small businesses, education, Community Development Block Grants (planning and housing), food stamps, Medicaid, tax credit programs and many domestic financial assistance programs.
So, Vermont has a lot invested in making sure we conduct a robust 2020 Census.

The Census is hiring 9,000 people — age 18 and up — in Vermont. The goal is to hire 613 people here in Windsor County, 728 in Windham, 741 in Rutland and 329 in Orange counties. The pay begins at $20 an hour (plus mileage and training) and applications are being taken now through March. Hiring and training are done on a rolling basis with training going through mid-May and work beginning in April and going to July.

You can choose your own schedule. The average number of hours people work per week is 24. It is a great part-time job. If you are interested in a Census job, click here.

You can take the Census on-line, on paper, on the phone, in person and in 59 languages. The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census be taken every 10 years to count ALL the people – both citizens and non-citizens – living in the United States.

The Census has only nine questions and they are simple and not intrusive. Census data is safe, secure and protected by federal law – and is entirely confidential. Our answers can only be used to produce statistics and cannot be used by any government agency or court in any way – not by ICE, the FBI, or the CIA.

The Patriot Act does not supersede the Census. Data security is the foundation of this work and there has been no breach to date. In March, we’ll be getting an invitation to respond online to the Census. If you don’t respond, there will be follow up postcards, a paper questionnaire reminder and a personal visit.

In Vermont, Gov. Phil Scott has created the VT Statewide Complete Count Commission, which is working to count ‘hard to count’ populations such as youth, the homeless, migrant workers, LGBTQIA communities, people of color and those with varying citizenship status. Key takeaways: Everyone counts, it’s about fair representation, it’s in the Constitution, it’s about redistricting, it’s your civic duty and it’s about Vermont’s share of $675 billion.

I can be reached by email: aclarkson@leg.state.vt.us or by phone at the Statehouse Tuesday through Friday at 828-2228 or at home Saturday through Monday at 457-4627. To get more information on the Vermont legislature, and the bills that have been p.roposed and passed, visit the legislative website by clicking here.

Sen. Alison Clarkson represents the Windsor District in the Vermont General Assembly.

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