WASHINGTON – The Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress today held a hearing on “The Economic Impacts of the 2020 Census and Business Uses of Federal Data in 210 of the Cannon House Office Building. The hearing was a very 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. Details and a video of the hearing can be found at the Committee’s website.
Census Project codirector Howard Fienberg, VP Advocacy, Insights Association, was invited to offer expert testimony by the Committee. “Manufacturers, retailers, and financial analysts use the data to measure a company’s health, compensate employees, quantify ROI, identify new opportunities, forecast performance, and optimize consumer price and strategies. Financial Institutions use Census data to identify lending and investment opportunities, set rates and terms, tailor financial programs to the local neighborhood level, and determine the best locations for branches,” testified Mr. Fienberg.
Making the point that census data are vital to large and small business alike, Mr. Fienberg pointed out that, “…[d]ata-driven decisions are even more reliant on accurate census data when they involve small or hard-to-count demographic groups or areas. Starbucks can easily open another coffee shop in Manhattan’s financial district, but it takes the most accurate census-based insights to justify one in rural Arkansas.” Mr. Fienberg’s full testimony can be found on the Census Project website at: https://censusproject.files.wordpress.com/2019/05/fienberg-jec-census-testimony-5-22-19-final.pdf.
Frequent Census Project contributor, Andrew Reamer, PhD, Research Professor, George Washington Institute of Public Policy, George Washington University also testified to the JEC. He emphasized the point 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.”
Mr. Reamer’s full testimony can also be found on the Census Project website at: https://censusproject.files.wordpress.com/2019/05/reamer-jec-testimony-05-22-19-final.pdf.
“This hearing laid out a strong factual basis for why our stakeholders believe strongly that the Census Bureau should be ensured full funding in the current Congressional Appropriations process,” said Census Project co-director Mary Jo Hoeksema. “Insufficient, delayed, or uncertain full-year funding for the 2020 Census jeopardizes the agency’s ability to meet its constitutional mandate and can have serious negative consequences for America’s businesses and our economy,” she added.
The Census Project (https://thecensusproject.org) is a broad-based coalition of national, state, and local organizations that support an inclusive and accurate 2020 Census and American Community Survey (ACS) (the modern version of the census “long form”). Its member organizations, representing the private, public, non-profit, and academic sectors, rely on objective data that the Census Bureau produces to inform evidence-based investment, policy and planning decisions.