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Low Participation of State’s Hard-to-Count Residents Threaten Federal Funding, Congressional Representation

LOS ANGELES – As Census workers begin knocking on doors in the effort to count the nation’s population, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) spoke today at a Congressional hearing on ways to increase the census participation of California’s large hard-to-count populations, which is critical in addressing the current undercount threatening California’s federal funding and Congressional representation.

“As we focus on jobs the budget and reform we want to make sure California gets all the federal funding to which we are entitled,” Pérez said. “The undercount from the 2000 Census has cost California $1.2 billion annually—money that could have alleviated at least some of the budget shortfalls we have faced over the past several years.”

In his testimony, Pérez suggested several ways the U.S. Census Bureau could increase census participation by hard-to-reach communities, many of which are based among California diverse immigrant populations. He called for:

  • Expanded use of trusted, local messengers with outreach tailored to their communities
  • Closer work between the Census Bureau and community-based organizations
  • Better census worker awareness of unique challenges posed by each community
  • Better understanding of community subsections that have consistently low participation rates

The 2010 national response rate is unchanged from 2000 at 72%. However, California’s response rate is down from 73% in 2000 to 71% in 2010.

In addition to determining the amount of federal funding California receives over the next decade, Census data determines where it will be distributed within the state, informing decisions on where to build roads, hospitals, schools, workforce training centers, and other projects. 2010 Regional response rates by county vary from 22% to 76% based on information collected so far, possibly leading to discrepancies in the distribution of federal funds.

Website of the U.S. Census: http://2010.census.gov/2010census/

Website of Speaker John A. Pérez: www.asmdc.org/speaker