Last week the Census Bureau released their 2020 Census Barriers, Attitudes, and Motivators Study Survey. This survey was intended to identify and understand the major challenges to a full response to the 2020 Census since less than seven in ten households who participated in the study indicated they were very likely or extremely likely to fill out the Census form.

According to the report, the five concerns that might prevent people from taking the census are:

  • Data privacy and confidentiality;
  • Repercussions for participating;
  • Distrust in all levels of government;
  • Belief that participating has no real impact; and
  • Belief that participating conveys no personal benefit.

Educating the public about the Census and these particular concerns can ensure a more accurate count of the Arkansas population. The more people know and understand what the Census is and how the data is used, the more likely they will be to respond.

Accurate Census counts benefit local communities since many federal monies and grants that help fund roads, schools, hospitals, and other public works and programs rely on data derived from the Census.  Low participation rates mean less money available to communities to pay for vital services and critical infrastructural needs.  Every person counts.

The Census Bureau works hard to ensure privacy and confidentiality. When data is released, an individual’s response is combined with other responses within the geographic area so an individual response cannot be identified.  All information disclosed is protected by Title 13, which guarantees that no personal information disclosed by a respondent can be used against them by a government agency or court.  Bureau employees also take a lifetime oath to protect information with a penalty of up to a five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, or both if that oath is violated.

Helping the public understand these facts about the Census will encourage them to fill out the Census form next year.

The Census Bureau’s full report can be found at: https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/decennial/2020/program-management/final-analysis-reports/2020-report-cbams-study-survey.pdf

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