This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

You can download an iPhone app for the 13th edition from the App Store (search for Weeks Population).

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Help Save the Census!

You may recall that the US House of Representatives recently passed a budget bill that would severely curtail funding for the Census Bureau, along with a provision that would allow people to choose not to participate in the American Community Survey (from which we derive the detailed census data). The Senate is about to take up discussion of this bill, and a reminder email went out today from the Population Association of America (PAA) to contact your Senator and urge a NO vote on these budget provisions.

Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives debated its version of a bill to fund the Census Bureau and other federal agencies in Fiscal Year 2013. During the debate, Congressman Webster (R-FL) offered an amendment to ELIMINATE funding for the American Community Survey (ACS), which the House passed by a vote of 232-190. The House also accepted via a voice vote an amendment offered by Representative Lankford (R-OK) to make participation in the ACS voluntary.
The U.S. Senate is scheduled to debate its version of the same funding bill, S. 3232, beginning as early as this month. Although no amendments have been formally introduced yet, census observers believe some Senators are contemplating amendments that would either make participation in the ACS voluntary and/or eliminate its funding altogether. It is important the U.S. Senate NOT follow the House by adopting similar amendments in its version of the Fiscal Year 2013 Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill. If the Senate does not adopt similar amendments, it increases the likelihood that the final negotiated version of the funding bill will be stripped of these House-passed provisions. 
The PAA has made it easy for you to contact your senators:

1. locate your two U.S. Senators:

2. Send them this message (edited as you see fit):
As your constituent, I am asking you to support the U.S. Census Bureau and, in particular, the American Community Survey (ACS). When the Senate debates its version of the Fiscal Year 2013 Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill, S. 2323, this summer, I urge you to vote NO on any amendments that would do any of the following:
  Cut or eliminate funding for the Census Bureau
  Cut or eliminate funding for the ACS
  Make participation in the ACS voluntary The ACS, which replaced the decennial census long form nationwide in 2005, is an invaluable source of information about the U.S. population. In fact, it is the ONLY source of representative, timely, and objective information about the nation's social, economic, housing and demographics characteristics down to the neighborhood level.
Thousands of ACS data users, including American businesses, state and local governments, researchers, and educators, rely on this survey to make critical decisions, including where to locate factories and stores, build roads, schools, and community centers and direct services to children, the elderly and veterans.  Tests conducted by the Census Bureau, at the request of Congress, proved that making participation in the ACS voluntary would decrease response rates by as much as 20 percent and increase the survey's annual costs by 30 percent, or $60 million a year.
Cutting funding to the ACS or making it a voluntary will achieve the same goal: render the nation's seminal source of reliable, timely and accurate social, economic, housing and demographic data useless. Thank you for considering my views.

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