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 12th (it came out in 2015), 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.

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Monday, June 12, 2017

US Census in Peril Puts the Economy in Peril

It has been more than a month since the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau resigned, and no one has been called upon to fill the job yet. The Deputy Director job is also vacant. As we get ever closer to the 2010 census, we really need people pushing the administration and Congress for enough money to fund a good census. The U.S. had led the world in the quality of its censuses for more than two centuries, but this is in peril, as the Huffington Post detailed in a very good article a couple of days ago. If you haven't read it, you need to.
When most people think of the U.S. Census Bureau, they probably don’t think of an agency that supercharges the profitability and efficiency of American businesses. Nor do they realize that one of the economy’s best secret weapons is facing its greatest crisis since James Madison and Thomas Jefferson created it in 1790.
But then again, most people haven’t built a $4.5 billion fortune based on Census data, the way Jack and Laura Dangermond have. The Dangermonds, sweethearts since high school, had an epiphany about data while they were graduate students at Harvard in 1967, a time when the university was awash in protests and political strife. They were both working in a lab developing the nascent field of computerized mapping, now better known as geographic information systems.
I've personally been using GIS to map and analyze census data for the last 30 years, and demographic science and a lot of other segments of the economy depend upon high quality georeferenced census data.
The world today is all about analytics, and the Census Bureau provides systematic and science-based information about the demographic profile of Americans,” Dangermond said. “Census data is in many ways the lifeblood of these kinds of organizations.”

That’s not an exaggeration ― and it’s why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spends a lot of time trying to persuade Congress and the White House to keep the bureau and its data production well-funded.
Indeed, the businesses that use this government data generate up to $220 billion a year in economic activity, according to a U.S. Department of Commerce study.
We all need to step up our efforts to contact our Senators and Member of the House of Representatives and remind them that as a nation we can't afford not to do a good job with the 2010 census. We need a good new director and we need a genuine boost in funding. 

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