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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Sunday, September 3, 2017

2020 Census Still in Limbo in the U.S.

It has been almost three months since I blogged about the serious financial difficulties facing the U.S. Census Bureau as it gears up for the 2020 Census. If you follow the Census Project blog, you will know that the situation remains dire, and the warning lights went on in this week's Economist, as well.
Spending usually rises greatly in the years before a census, to pay for testing and technology. But pending legislation would appropriate only $1.5bn for the 2018 fiscal year, nearly $300m less than needed, according to Terri Ann Lowenthal, a census expert. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has placed the 2020 census on its list of high-risk projects. Lack of funding has already caused the bureau to cancel two of its three “end-to-end” tests, as dress rehearsals are called. John Thompson, the agency’s director, unexpectedly left in June [as I noted at the time]; President Donald Trump has yet to nominate his replacement.
America’s census is an astounding, expensive event. In 2010 the Census Bureau amassed 550,000 temporary employees and spent $12.3bn trying to count every American resident. The GAO notes that costs have increased from $16 per household in 1970 to $92 in 2010. If an accurate tally is costly, though, an inaccurate one is probably more so.
Congress will return to work this week, and it is imperative that we all contact our members of Congress in both the House and Senate to remind them how important the Census is to the American economy and how foolishly cost-ineffective it is to not properly fund it. The Population Association of America has some good talking points to help you out on this important task.

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