The Congressional Joint Economic Committee held a hearing on May 22, 2019 on “The Economic Impacts of the 2020 Census and Business Uses of Federal Data.” Howard Fienberg, codirector of the Census Project, and Andrew Reamer, research professor at George Washington University (and frequent Census Project contributor), testified.
Watch the video recording:
The hearing proved to be a useful summary of the importance of the constitutionally-mandated count, not only for fair political representation, but a decade long impact on economic activity, entrepreneurship, and investment.
Although “the Census Bureau aims for a 100% accounting of the U.S. population every ten years,” Fienberg testified, “it rarely achieves that goal. Hard-to-count populations and areas (such as remote and rural areas, racial and ethnic minorities, young children, and low-income households) are normally undercounted. Small inaccuracies in census data have a big impact” on data-driven decision making, which is why the business community cares about the funding and integrity of the 2020 Census.
Reamer emphasized that “the widespread use of data derived from the decennial census by businesses and nonprofit organizations, workers and students, and federal, state and local governments has a substantial positive effect on the vitality of the U.S. economy and the nation’s 6 million private firms. To put this number in perspective, 5.3 million U.S. firms (89 percent) have less than 20 employees. At the same time, the 20,000 firms with 500 or more employees account for nearly half of private employment. In other words, the availability of census-derived data has a substantial impact on the profitability of millions of very small firms and of the very large firms that collectively employ tens of millions of workers.”