Local residents who want to see less traffic on state Route 36, or more retail and eatery choices in Tooele Valley, will want to stand up and be counted.
More representation in the U.S. Congress could be a benefit, too.
As reported in last Thursday’s edition, local and state population data officials urge Tooele County citizens to participate when 2020 U.S. Census notices start arriving in the mail this month. The notices are to alert heads of every household that it’s time for the Decennial Census and they can complete their Census questionnaire either online, by mail or on the phone.
The Decennial Census is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau to get a count of the nation’s population in all 50 states, District of Columbia and 5 U.S. territories. It is mandated in the U.S. Constitution, and has been held every decade since the first Census in 1790. The U.S. Census Bureau was created by Congress in 1902.
“It’s vital that people respond so our numbers are accurate,” said Mallory Bateman, state data center coordinator for the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah, during a press conference last week at the Tooele County Chamber of Commerce.
She said all population estimates for the next 10 years will be based on the 2020 Census. The numbers are used to determine reapportionment for Congress, and redistricting for elected positions, from the Utah Legislature down to local school boards.
The numbers are also used to help set national polices and dole out funds. According to 2020census.gov, billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other resources based on census data.
But according to Bateman, government isn’t the only entity that relies on an accurate Census. Businesses do as well for planning, she said, which suggests decisions on expansion and relocations in Tooele County, and new job opportunities, are made based on accurate population numbers.
“With all the growth that has gone on, especially out here in Tooele, getting a good count is essential,” Bateman said.
We couldn’t agree more. On April 1, 2010, the U.S. Census count for Tooele County was 58,218. Current state projections put that number over 70,000. This year’s census will provide more clarity on what is the county’s population as of April 1, 2020.
But that can only occur if every head of household participates. Even though the census is mandated in the Constitution, everyone doesn’t comply. Evidently, that was a problem in the county during the 2010 Census. Jared Hamner, executive director of the Tooele County Chamber of Commerce, said some parts of the county had the lowest response rate to the questionnaire in the state.
“It is important that we respond,” Hamner said. “Accurate data benefits our community and businesses.”
And it’s even easier than ever to respond. For the first time in U.S. Census history, heads of households can fill out the questionnaire online. All answers are confidential and there are no questions about citizenship.
Like voting, participating in the U.S. Census is a citizen’s duty to sustain a republic. It’s time to put the projections aside and get real, solid population numbers for Tooele County. For more information, see 2020census.gov.