(introduction music playing) – [Host] The United States Census of 1790 was the first census of the whole United States, and it’s mandated by the Constitution We’ll visit with census employees Cathy Lacey and Lily Griego to discuss the importance of the 2020 census for Wyoming, how the census will be conducted in our state, and new tools the census will use to ensure a complete and accurate count The 2020 census, next on “Wyoming Chronicle.” (orchestral music playing) (orchestral music playing) (orchestral music playing) – We want to welcome you to this special “Wyoming Chronicle” on the census and more in particular, how important the census is to Wyoming and with us are Cathy Lacey Cathy is the Regional Director of the Denver region of the US Census Kathy, welcome to the “Wyoming Chronicle” And Lily Griego, Lily is a Partnership Coordinator for Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana for this census – That’s right – Welcome to you both So, as we begin our discussion on this census, really billions and billions of dollars of federal money is at stake The pie is one size, but it’s the slices of the pie that change and that’s why the census is important to Wyoming – Exactly, so there’s 675 billion dollars that’s distributed yearly based on census counts So it’s really critical that this once in a decade count is indeed accurate because as you said, that 675 billion dollars, and some people say it’s more than that, that are coming into the state of Wyoming, it really does fund a tremendous amount of various programs, grants, infrastructures, schools It really gives you an idea of that funding that directs where it needs to be spent – And we have a lot of questions about the census and I think a lot of people have some personal questions and we’re gonna get into those as we get through our interview today but when will the census be conducted? What can people expect? – So we’re really excited One of the things that I’d like to mention is we’ve been working on this for a long time and as a newer census employee, my first census ever, I’m really honored to work with people who’ve been working on this since 2010, literally, taking some lessons learned from the road, and – [Craig] Literally a decade of prepping for this census – Absolutely and so I’ve been on the road about a year and a half and we’ve been engaging folks across the state of Wyoming to engage in complete count committees and partnership and really doing our due diligence to create a sense of awareness and education about why the census matters to every single person in the country, let alone in Wyoming – So what are people gonna see in their mailboxes? When are they gonna start to hear ads? And what are they going to hear? And what are they going to see? – Okay, so beginning the mid-January, people will hear the first educational ads And it’s really talking about to the local area why is this important to the state of Wyoming? Why should people be counted? So as the educational phase of our national contract, so during the month of March that’s when people will be receiving their invitation and or questionnaire and for people who are in areas where the postal service does not deliver – [Craig] That’s by mail? – Yes, there’s a group that’s by mail If we can’t deliver it by mail, we’ll be hand delivering Then that will be our call to action You’ve received your census form, where were you? What’s your usual residence as of April first? And it’s a simple questionnaire and it only has about 10 questions and it’s really just what’s the makeup of your household? Easier than a credit card application – Not as scary as a credit card application (Lily laughing) – No, not as scary, ’cause we don’t ask income on that questionnaire, we’re just – I think that’s an important thing that we can talk about And this data I think in today’s world, maybe even different from just 2010 – [Lily] Exactly – We’re in a different world and people I think some people are more concerned about their privacy and their data – [Cathy] Mhmm – Why should this be a concern of people when they are filling out their census forms? – I’ll tell ya it’s definitely a concern for the Census Bureau I mean, our reputation is based on our ability to keep people’s information confidential Even though the questionnaire, if I were to interview you, then that questionnaire is just so here is your address Is it correct? Who’re all the people living and staying in your household? What’s their relationship to one another, their age, their date of birth? Are they Hispanic origin? What’s their race?
What’s a phone number in case we, you know, didn’t get something right? So it’s a very very short questionnaire, but if we’re not able to keep that information confidential, then we’re not gonna have public trust and those other nine years as we say, we’re out there collecting those economic indicators that are used such as employment unemployment, crime statistics, health statistics, the consumer price index, as well as the American community survey which is critical for planning for the state and local communities that’s really layered on top of that once in a decade census count and that’s really critical for every community – So suffice it to say that this data is not for sale – Absolutely not – [Craig] It’s not available for others and it’s used by the federal government for census purposes – For census purposes and if people want to check it out, you can go onto the Census Bureau’s website and what you’re gonna see is the statistics Any personal information about individuals is stripped from that data so you can only see that breakdown, but only in statistical purposes and only at a high enough level that we’re able to ensure that people’s confidential information is not released I mean, we take this so seriously that if you called me and said I sent my form in, what did I put on it? I can’t tell you, I can’t even tell you what I put on my own census form – And you couldn’t research it? – I can’t, all I can see is did you send it or did you not? And I care because if you didn’t, I’m gonna send someone to your house to collect that information – So is that the only way the census is conducted? I get this form in the mail and I have that Are there other tools now that are available for you to conduct the census? – That’s a great question So I’m really honored that we’re part of the first, what I would say advanced census, so this is the first ever census offered online and I think that goes hand in hand with your question about protection of privacy So we have four opportunities to respond to the census We really wanna focus on the first two which will be the mail As Cathy mentioned, it will be dropping in the mail across the country in March Essentially in four waves, but folks can go online and fill it out and what we’re really excited about that the partnership has done is establish partnerships across the country to include Wyoming So let’s just say a hypothetical example could be that you get your form in the mail, you have a special identification number You could go to the library if you don’t have a computer at home or if you don’t have the internet services, a wifi provider, you could go down to the local library or stop by a cafe where you have some wifi, take care of this on your phone, take care of this on a laptop and an iPad, literally be done with this, and it’s just a huge huge part of history to show, again, what Wyoming looks like It’s also an opportunity to have some sense of civic duty to comply and make sure that we are fulfilling our constitutional mandate – And some people may not realize this is a constitutional mandate – This is the first time in my life I’ve been able to say that my job is dictated by the actual Constitution And I think it’s really a cool thing to participate in a nationwide endeavor that has such a local level impact on the results for a decade, not just for a short period of time, it’s every single year that 675 billion dollars comes into local communities And when we drive around Wyoming, whether we’re in Gillette or we’re in Jackson or we’re in Cheyenne or Casper, I know local communities are anxious to be part of this census – And you drove on an interstate that’s built with federal dollars – [Lily And Cathy] Absolutely! – It absolutely is important, but people are not required by any means that they do not need to have a smartphone, they do not need to have a computer, they don’t have to go to the library, they can just take care of this on a paper form – Absolutely, you know, I joke My mother is not gonna go on the internet, she is not gonna call and get assistance, she will do it when her paper form comes in the mail, and she’ll be sure ’cause she’s afraid of me, she’ll complete the census and she’ll mail it back, but she’s not gonna choose those other two options We have just increased the options that every household has for responding to the census – Do you worry about people duplicating? I did my thing online but I have this form, should I mail it in too? – So this is where unique identifiers, so every one of the forms or invitations has a unique identifier We match that up to what we call our master address file That’s our inventory for all the housing units within the state of Wyoming So when people, if they use that ID, it matches up, so one cancels, so we only take the information once It’s also the tool that I use to know that I have information from every household for the state of Wyoming – Do you ever find the case that people are afraid to report some people in their household for whatever reason? – Right, we do, and usually with HUD housing, there are people afraid to let others know that they have, you know, a couple extra people living in their household
This is the one time where people really need to be honest about the number of people living in their household So if there is a housing shortage, this is where you identify that If people are looking for those grant dollars, if they choose to only put two people and not the eight people, that’s gonna hurt them, that 10 years down the road We have to remember, this is confidential I am not, nor is the Census Bureau, giving this information to other government agencies So I, we’re kinda like the Roach Motel So we do take informations from other government agencies, but we’re not giving them our information about any individual household, so it’s safe – And there, along those lines a little bit, there was some confusion earlier in the year about the president’s request to have the citizenship question on the census It’s been decided that that question is not part of the census – [Cathy] That is actually – Is there still some confusion out there about that and for non-US citizens, how do they participate in the census? – Okay, we have to remember that the Constitution says we count everyone, so if they’re in the US, then we need to make sure, as usual residents, that they should be included in our counts The form is not going to ask are you a citizen or not? It doesn’t distinguish that at all So it’s just a count, so some people are concerned, but this is the one time where you really do need to be honest about what’s going on in your housing unit Again, it’s confidential, it’s not being released to anyone – And impacts everything from schools to healthcare to everything – [Lily And Cathy] Absolutely – In your community, not somewhere else – Exactly, we do it on a national basis, but this is a local census and the information is used by the local area and we wanna make sure, I like to think we’re the truth tellers of the nation We want to make sure you’re dealing with the true facts for the next 10 years – As you know, Wyoming is a very rural state and there are areas, I can imagine, that are going to be very very difficult to count How do you approach those areas? – So I’ve mentioned the partnership program very briefly and that’s what I manage for Wyoming So we have partnership specialists They’re hired locally, so these are folks that’ll already know the community They live there They know the unique nature of the community, whether it’s about demographics or whether it’s about the weather, so the wind and the snow during the winter is a real thing in Wyoming and so – [Craig] It very much is – Yeah, so we don’t wanna bring folks in from out of state to do this work here – [Craig] Sure – We wanna hire locally so folks have a good understanding of our engagement process Our engagement process really seeks one main thing and that’s to increase self response rates for the census The more accurate data usually comes from someone self responding so providing their own answers And so our partnership program looks to create not just partnerships, but complete count committees And there are volunteer organizations that come together to educate the community and really focus on what we identify as hard to count populations Some folks may call it a vulnerable population. Some may – A homeless group? – Absolutely Veterans – It comes to mind, sure – So some of that Senior citizens maybe – Yes, absolutely, and you and I spoke briefly about with river reservations, so even engaging what the census calls tribal, what community could indigenous or native communities, we want to make sure that we’re directly engaging with folks from the Census Bureau to say this is why this is really important to you And you talked about your fair share of the pie, but also not just the technical criteria of when the census is gonna happen again in March, and census day is officially April first, but how it’s going to take place within the rural areas Now, 2010 two populations that really stood out as hard to count were children under the age of five and rural populations – Let’s take those individually – Sure – Why children under the age of five? – It can be a variety of factors and I really like that Cathy was just talking about this So especially now this census has been highly unique in comparison to previous censuses and one of the things that we found commonly the household dynamic can be very different So if for example, I could have my mother living with me and we’ve been called the sandwich generation and I could have my son and his wife and their brand new baby living with me So it could be a common mistake to think I’ve gotten the census form, I’m gonna fill out the form for myself and mail it back and I’m done However, the census wants to know who’s inside of your household and this is where the civic duty comes in to say okay, I want a count for everyone in my population, everyone in my community, but then the sense of fear of sharing information, this is really important for renters, for folks who may be living with government assistance, they may be fearful to share out that information if they’re not supposed to have someone in their house and we advocate for this is for the benefit of the community
and again, the information would never be shared out So therefore, I would fill out the form for myself, whether on the phone, on the internet, or the paper form, and then I would go on to the next person and list my mother, the next person list my son, and then after that his wife, and then make sure to count the baby after that So under the age of five is a very vulnerable population that we want to make sure to account for because when we do the 2030 census, these young kiddos are gonna be, you know, almost close to junior high age – And then rural ares – Absolutely, rural has unique dynamics So our region, one of the things I love about our region is that we have the Rocky Mountain region so while our team is out on the road and they’re traveling from city to city, they get the benefit of seeing how beautiful this geography is However, it presents different challenges to different communities We were driving out here and we noticed, just on the drive from the first stop that we came to to this meeting with you our internet service kept dropping So if we’re encouraging folks to go online and fill out the census and we really wanna see that push in March of 2020 to the internet, we wanna make sure that we’ve provided every opportunity to make sure that the 2020 census is accessible to every single person across the country, especially in rural places like Wyoming And that’s why we have those backup options, so to speak, of the internet but then you can dial in by phone and I like to date myself just a little bit, I like to think I’m in between different generations, I still remember the landlines and I still remember the spin dial and so if you just wanna pick up the phone and call in, you can do that as well in English and 12 other languages – What does it mean to be living in the household? My family member is with us three months a year or four months a year and happens to be with us on April first, but the other seven or eight months is somewhere else What does that mean? – So what you’re looking for is where are people, the majority of the time So I pick on my cousin for this question For a while there, she was in Oklahoma three months out of the year She was in Arizona four months out of the year and I don’t know where she was for the other time, but we actually figured out that four months is the longest she was anywhere So, she needed to be counted in Arizona So we usually say six months and a day, but it doesn’t always apply if you are living in different locations So for those other months, it’s your usual residence So I’m assuming they live one place those other months and if that’s the case, that’s where they would be counted – What role do libraries and maybe church and faith-based organizations play in this census? Or do they have a role? – Actually, libraries are way more important to this census I mean, libraries are extremely important to census period, but this time, any of the libraries that have the computer equipment, again, it’s just 10 questions so people can easily go access the internet and complete their form through libraries and we have tried to partner with libraries across the state and that’s worked out extremely well – We’ve heard the term under-count Do we know whether why Wyoming’s been under-counted in the past and what it may have cost the state? – Well for the state of Wyoming, we actually do a survey to evaluate the Census Bureau’s accuracy and for the state of Wyoming, it was statistically insignificant for the under-count for the state of Wyoming – In the 2010 census? – For the 2010 census – So we did pretty well – Yes, we did pretty well Now if you look down at the lower levels, you’re gonna see differences and we do have that information on our website, but at the state level, it was statistically insignificant – Some people are watching this and are wondering, are you hiring? – Absolutely, okay And I’ll do the manage expectations here So the majority of the positions that we hire will be working, and this is throughout the entire state, is for our update leave operation where we’ll be delivering and updating, delivering the questionnaires and updating our address list, in those areas where the postal service does not deliver and that’s our first operation that’s gonna be going on during March, we’ll be hiring in January for that particular operation So the next big operation is our non-response follow-up operation That is where we go back to the homes that we did not receive response to, to complete that operation and we’ll be hiring for that late January February and then that operation actually occurs in May – Out of curiosity, what is that non-response rate? What do you statistically plan for? – Okay, so – [Craig] We hope it’s small – Yeah, exactly, so it’s interesting for the state of Wyoming, I believe you had a 74% response rate in 2000 In 2010, it was down to 69%, so I’m kinda hoping, expectation wise, that the participation rate will be closer
to what you had in 2000 being a 74% response rate and then we just go back to that 26% of the housing units – Will you be advertising on, will people expect to see advertisements in their social media feeds as well? Will you be using that as a tool? – Absolutely So we have a national communications campaign this census There are three phases The first phase is gonna begin mid January and that’s just educating people and traditionally, we have used TV, radio, and newspapers We have expanded significantly to include that social media because that’s what people are looking at Who watches a commercial anymore? I know I don’t if I can help it So we do have a large social media blast this time Again, it starts mid January then the call to action is going to be in March when people receive their questionnaire And then in May, it’s a watch out, we have census workers that are out there So it’s just helping people to know that we’re out in the field and you know, we’re the good guys, and help us do the best for your local community – Let’s talk about the hurdles that you anticipate What is your biggest concern really as this census is coming upon us? – I tell you, the one thing that keeps me up at night is ensuring that we have enough people to get this census done Again when you’re looking at a unemployment rate of 3.4 and Wyoming we had certain areas last census that were very difficult to staff but it doesn’t compare to what we have goin’ on this census So 2.4 basically means everyone who wants a job, has a job So finding people that are looking to part-time job, when we look at our non-response follow-up operation, we need to have people out there when people are at home So we’re a great second job for people who are looking for additional employment for a very limited amount of time – You train? – Absolutely, we train, we pay you from the time that you leave your home You do your work assignment and you go home You get mileage, you get, you know, the hours for travel – How long might this job last, do we know? – It’s six to eight weeks Six to eight weeks – That’s not a long term commitment, better still an opportunity – Absolutely, absolutely So if you’re looking to pay off those Christmas bills, we’re a great way to do that We love the retired population Generally they have an amazing work ethic We love retired people So if they’re interested, we love volunteers People who are helping their community The only difference is we’ll pay ’em for comin’ to work for us – And it, go ahead – I was gonna add to, that I think that my concerns are a tad different although complimentary so to speak if that’s not a funny thing to say when you’re talking about concerns I would say, and I know my team has heard me say, if we could just have more hours in the day, there is so much ground to cover with speaking to people about why does the census matter to me Take a really simple question, why should I fill it out? So talking to my mom was really fascinating about the census when I first took this job, thinking about seniors, she was unaware that her participation in this census is a community endeavor that, she is on the road She is using hospitals She is using health clinics She may need some sort of government assistance at some point in time But all of the advantages to being, getting a fair piece of the pie as you said or being part of this endeavor, it leads back to a community effort So her misgiving was well, you’re not in school anymore Her grandkids are out of school so she didn’t really see how it played a role and she equated it kind of to taxes, which it’s not the same And it’s not just limited to one venture of our lives Like the minute you walk out the door, we love to do this with our complete count committees, how do you use census dollars in your daily commute? How do you, from the time you get up in the morning to the time you go to bed, what have you touched that’s touched census dollars – [Craig] People would be amazed – It’s eye-opening, it’s fascinating stuff And we just also had a call that we were talking with the community of veterans and military so as a civilian, I was continually engaged It’s at the militaries, the active duty members of who we are so grateful to have in our communities and then our veterans and they said, well you know, the government has a lot of our information already and I said but you still need to fill out your census form – [Craig] Because it’s not the same – Exactly. So if we could have literally more hours in the day to do more education, that’s my concern at night which is why I would like to just extend a huge debt of gratitude to our local partners and our state partners in Wyoming Because they are literally, as Cathy said, doing this with us – [Cathy] Right – Those that have recognized the importance and the magnitude of the results for the next decade have joined us in this endeavor and we need all the help we can get – The work of the Census Bureau doesn’t end, say,
June first of 2020 It goes on What happens after the census is complete? – So as far as the census data, you know the regional offices, we’re responsible for collecting the information and then the count from the census is delivered to the president on December 31st After that, in March of 2021 is when the redistricting data starts to come out And that’s when the local governments start to utilize and see boy, how did that come out But our regional office continues year in and year out So I think I said earlier, any of the programs that you hear or the statistics that you hear generally come from the Census Bureau One day, someone said, why do you need a census? I could just look at the back of the Rand McNally map Guess what, that comes from the Census Bureau So if you don’t have a Census Bureau, you’re not gonna get that But also the employment unemployment rate, crime statistics, health statistics, consumer price index, that information comes from the work that the Census Bureau does the other nine years and we have people right here in Wyoming collecting that information – Let’s review the questions – Okay – As we kind of, sum things up here Again, what are you asking people to respond to? – Basically, what we’re looking for is for people one, to verify their address Two, we want to know everyone who is living and staying in that household Verify that this is their usual residence and then we ask, basically did we miss anybody? ‘Cause you wanna make sure we get the zero to five children and then we’re asking for what is their relationship to one another We’re asking for their race, their date of birth, their age Are they of Hispanic origin? And basically their phone number This is very quick and easy, it’s just a snapshot of what their household looks like on April first – It’s interesting as I discuss this with different colleagues around Wyoming, some are fearful that Wyoming maybe has lost population in some areas which they believe makes the census even more critical that Wyoming is fully counted So Cathy Lacey and Lisa Griego, thank you so much for talking all things census for Wyoming I really appreciate it – [Lily And Cathy] Thank you (orchestral music playing) (orchestral music playing) (orchestral music playing) (orchestral music playing)