B2 High-Intermediate US 16 Folder Collection
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- [Narrator] As a global health emergency is taking hold,
America is moving forward
with its crucial once-a-decade census.
In March, the Census Bureau said an employee tested positive
for the new coronavirus.
The worker didn't have contact with the public,
but the incident is reinforcing the bureau's need
to collect information over the internet.
This isn't the bureau's only challenge
as it collects surveys.
The 2020 census has been on
the Government Accountability Office's watch list
for three years.
Those concerns, combined with pandemic-driven impediments,
could make 2020's count more difficult to execute,
but the count must move forward
because it is a foundational part of American governance.
- The census is very important
because it is the foundation of how political power
is distributed in this country.
And so, it's important to be counted,
and it's not just that people be included
but be included where they reside
so that political power can be equitably distributed
or accurately distributed.
- [Narrator] Here's how the new dynamics
are reshaping 2020's count.
This year, most households received a letter
rather than a complete census form in the mail.
- This is the first census in which there'll be
a widespread option to respond over the internet.
- [Narrator] That's because the census
wanted to move toward online response.
In light of the new coronavirus,
the bureau's reemphasizing the need to respond online
or by phone or by mail
without having to meet a census-taker.
This is the safest way to answer the census,
and that could prove crucial as the country hunkers down
to increase social distance
and limit the spread of the virus.
Online response will limit the amount
of in-person enumeration needed to count everyone,
which relates to another major challenge
facing 2020's census: staffing.
Staffing has been an ongoing area of concern
at the Census Bureau.
That problem becomes most visible at the local level.
- One of the things that's very important
is to look at the census down at almost a granular level,
a very local level.
That's what's gonna make or break the census.
- [Narrator] Only about two-thirds of the country
responded to the initial prompt for the 2010 census,
and those numbers vary at the local level.
For example, about 74% of Minnesotans
responded to the census's first request,
but some counties in the state had response rates below 40%.
Lower response rates mean that the Census Bureau
needs to send temporary workers to knock on doors
and request responses in person.
But the need to increase social distance
will make it harder to send field workers out
to track hard-to-reach populations
and others who don't respond.
For months, the Census Bureau struggled
to recruit enough temporary workers.
The GAO issued this chart in February
to show how far behind the bureau had fallen.
The Census Bureau disputed those findings,
saying that they effectively met their staffing goals,
but the bureau will still have to deal with
falling response rates.
That's because Americans in general
have become less likely to answer surveys.
- Each census that I've been involved with,
the bureau assumes a lower mail response rate
than they received in the preceding census,
in part because of just the complexity of counting people
in various living arrangements,
but in part because of reduction in trust.
- [Narrator] Which brings us to a third major challenge
facing 2020's census: trust.
In 2019, the Republican National Committee
sent a 2020 Congressional District Census
to a number of households.
It was not an official census.
The document asks about political preferences
and preferred news sources,
none of which are asked on the official census.
The questionnaire was also much longer
than the official census and asked respondents
to donate money to process the document.
As recently as March, the Trump campaign
promoted the misleading prompt on Facebook.
Facebook later removed the ads,
citing the company's census interference policy.
But experts say that the lingering effects
of confusing documents like this
could further depress response rates in the country.
Census forms started arriving in mailboxes in mid-March.
The bureau must report results to Congress
no later than December of 2020.
Some response timetables could be shaken up
as the bureau monitors the situation
and takes new guidance from public health authorities.
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Why Coronavirus Is Making the Census Even More Challenging | WSJ

16 Folder Collection
day published on April 8, 2020
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