The census is the basis for determining how many representatives each state gets in Congress and how an estimated 1.5 trillion dollars in federal funding
are spent. It only happens once every 10 years.
And time is running out to get it right.
So if you haven't had a chance to follow what's going on with the 2020 count, now is the time to take notice -- because no matter where you live in the US, many important things in your community are at stake.
"The census, when you boil it down, is about two things: It's about power and it's about money," says Jeff Robbins, a census administrator for the city of Mesa, Arizona.
And one thing, Robbins says, is keeping him awake at night: "What happens when we run out of time, and not everybody's counted?"
Currently, the count is scheduled to end September 30. Legal battles
are raging over a series of last-minute changes to the census. And groups across the country are scrambling to boost response rates before it's too late.
Census officials maintain they're committed to producing a complete and accurate count. And a top official for the agency said in a recent court declaration that the bureau is on track to do so.
But demographics experts, local officials and advocacy groups have a lot of concerns that this year's tally won't be accurate, because a pandemic and politics got in the way
. They're raising alarm bells that a significant undercount is likely
If that happens, here are some of the key things at risk:
States could lose representatives in Congress