Why the U.S. Census Matters for Our Work and Our Clients

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Wendy Shabay Bonneau

Urban Planner

At Freese and Nichols, our various planning groups regularly use U.S. Census Bureau data to forecast clients’ needs for water, transportation, utilities, land use and development. The 2020 Census count takes place this spring, and we encourage you to take the time to complete it and encourage anyone within your influence to do the same (your data is confidential).

Why the Census matters

The U.S. Constitution includes that a count of the population take place once a decade. The data collected will have enormous impact for the next 10 years:

  • Helping the federal government decide how to distribute billions of dollars in funding and assistance to states and localities
  • Determining the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives
  • Influencing the drawing of lines for congressional and state legislative districts

Census results directly impact our public sector clients. For example, the data was used to distribute more than $675 billion in federal funds to states and local communities for infrastructure, education, health and housing programs during Fiscal Year 2015. Accurate counts ensure that funding is equitably distributed for programs such as highway planning and construction, special education grants to states, the National School Lunch Program, Head Start and Medicaid. (Source: https://www.prb.org/importance-of-us-census/)

How the Census influences local decision-making

  • Local government leaders use the data to plan a variety of local or regional public safety projects, including new city/county roads, primary schools or hospitals.
  • Real estate developers and city planners use the data to target areas for building new homes or making neighborhood improvements.
  • Businesses use the data to decide where to build factories, offices and stores, which ultimately helps create jobs.
  • First responders and disaster recovery personnel use population information to help identify where and how much help is needed during emergencies and disasters.
  • Public health officials use demographic data to track disease outbreaks and epidemics and target child health education.

Learn more about the 2020 U.S. Census at: https://www.census.gov/

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Wendy Shabay Bonneau, FAICP, leads a team of planners and landscape architects across multiple states. She is a Principal in our Fort Worth office.