Will we have a Census in 2020? Sure. Will it have any value? It’s too soon to tell. As government looks for places to cut expenditures the Census is ripe for slicing as there is no strong advocate within government to champion the cause. A recent article in the Washington Post suggest that Census 2020 will be performed electronically via the internet.
The Census is invaluable to business and government. We re-draw political boundaries based on Census data, we can see population trend lines of growth and contraction. We obtain a very accurate gauge of where aging populations reside and where youth are congregating. All of these bits of information assist businesses, from retailers to home builders, in their decision-making.
The Census is more than just a target marketing tool. Companies utilize census data regularly to assess workforce statistics. For example, a company looking to locate a manufacturing plant that will employ 300 high skill employees will want to know which cities have these workers available now and into the future.
A company will review, among other things, Census data to ascertain average age and educational attainment of the existing workforce and cross-reference this with Bureau of Labor Statistics data to identify the number of existing people in the workforce that meets or exceeds minimum experience criteria. This tells them the number of potential qualified employees in the workforce in a particular place they will have in their initial hiring pool of qualified candidates.
Multifamily and new home builders need to know the direction of populations. The same for small business owners. A person looking to open and run a group home or a few guys wanting to open a new sandwich shop are all interested in knowing who lives in a place and the direction of the numbers in terms of age, income and household size. These facts represent the baseline data for building further layers of demographic information about a place.
Accurate census data allows government to estimate future social security obligations and measure the number of potential people available to serve in the armed forces. Why does one grocery store have five different kinds of hot peppers and another one five miles away stock two hundred varieties of red wine? Demographics.
Let’s hope that Census 2020 is in no way watered down from prior versions. We may in fact obtain better estimates based on electronic versions being sent to heads of households. Advances in demography and statistical query will also play a role. My vote is for full funding to do the job right. We all benefit.
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