Anthony Powell- Discusses the US Census

By: Anthony Powell

Liincs Thought Leader. Legislative Aide at Town of Brookhaven.

Right now, we’re all seeking anything that qualifies as “business as usual.” 

So here’s something essential to the millennials on Long Island.

The United States has conducted a census count every ten years since 1790, and 2020 is no different. The Census doesn’t just collect data for the sake of collecting data. Census responses have the potential to impact you, your loved ones, and all Long Island communities in a variety of ways over the coming decade.

The goal of census data boils down to two fundamental parts: federal funding and representation.

On the funding front, hundreds of billions of federal dollars are designated annually using information gathered from census data. Last year, more than $16B of those federal dollars were spent in Nassau and Suffolk counties, according to USAspending.gov, a government source for data on federal grants, contracts, loans, and other financial assistance.

On the representation side: States gain or lose congressional seats based on census data, and a state’s congressional delegation determines its representation in the Electoral College. Long Island’s 31 state legislators and 37 County Legislators, are all elected from political divisions called districts and are slated to have those districts redrawn upon the completion of the 2020 census. The Towns of Hempstead, North Hempstead, and Brookhaven will also have their districts redrawn.

Census statistics also inform funding for Pell Grants — the federal student-aid program many young adults rely on to finance their higher education. According to a 2015 report by the Long Island Regional Advisory Council and Higher Education, more than 150,000 college students on Long Island receive Pell Grants.

It’s easy to complete the ten basic Census questions online, by mail or over the phone. Your information is safe, secure, and confidential. The Census does not ask for sensitive information like Social Security numbers, immigration status, or bank account information.

You have a lot on your mind, but there’s a lot at stake. Learn more at 2020Census.gov.

Anthony Powell is a legislative aide with the Town of Brookhaven and the President of Brookhaven Next. Brookhaven Next is an organization focused on engaging all residents and local businesses in a critical conversation about our future. Anthony can be reached via e-mail at anthony@brookhavennext.org.