Connecticut and the 2020 Census: Preparing for the Count
The United States Constitution requires a full population count to occur every ten years, and since 1790 the U.S. Census Bureau has counted every U.S. resident, providing critical data on the nation’s population that helps form public policy and has a major impact on every community – including how our schools are run, the quality of our transportation system, resources needed for our law enforcement to operate, and much more.
The next census will be held in 2020, and the State of Connecticut is gearing up to actively participate to give the most accurate count possible, but the support of local government is greatly needed and Governor Malloy is urging municipalities to partner in this effort.
Why the Census is Critical for State and Local Governments
Data collected by the 2020 census is critical for state and local governments.
The federal government distributes approximately $600 billion in funds to state and local governments for education, Medicaid and other health programs, highways, housing, law enforcement and much more. To do so, the government uses formulas that are dependent on an area’s level of education, income or poverty rate, racial and family composition, and more. The census provides the baseline for those distributions by counting the people with each of those characteristics in each state and census block.
In Connecticut, almost $8 billion in federal aid allotted to the state is based, in part, on census data. This data is also used as the basis for federal funding formulas for a variety of programs that support local government operations, including education. In order to ensure that Connecticut maximizes its share of federal funds and that dollars are distributed fairly and equitably, an accurate census is critical. Recently, the U.S. Government Accountability Office designated the 2020 census of being at a “High Risk” of failure. Thus, it is incumbent upon Connecticut to do everything we can to ensure an accurate count.
Some examples of how this data is used includes:
- School Districts: Accurate counts of the student population by age, sex, race, ethnicity, and address are necessary for short- and long-term enrollment projections and planning initiatives. The Educational Cost Sharing (ECS) formula is derived, in part, using census inputs.
- Funding Streams: The census is the foundation for official state, county, and town estimates upon which per capita funding allocations are determined. Funding allocation streams include federal, state, local allocations as well as grants from the federal and state governments and for profit and non-profit organizations.
- Health Statistics: Accurate population counts from the 2020 census will directly impact the accuracy of major public health statistics: birth rates, infectious and chronic disease rates, cancer incidence rates, mortality rates, and indicators of health that are based on survey data – all of which are stratified by age, sex, race and ethnicity in order to target public health interventions.
- Emergency Preparedness and Programmatic Planning: Local health districts utilize census data for preparedness planning (e.g., immunizations, shelters), programmatic health planning for towns, identifying vulnerable populations (elderly, very young, pregnant), and steering funds.
- Municipal Planning: Predicting economic changes on the horizon (such as those that affect tax revenue) and transportation, housing, public safety, and other needs and trends.
- Representation in the General Assembly: The data from the decennial census are used to create Connecticut’s voting districts which in turn are used for house and senate districts in the General Assembly.
- Long-Term Impact on Municipalities: Complete addressing affects municipalities in a long-term way. While the 2020 census occurs on April 1, 2020, the Census address file is used by the American Community Survey and other census products for the entire decade. Under-representation can have a ten-year impact on population estimates and misrepresentation of demographics in 2020 can lead to long-term miscalculations.
The LUCA Program
The Local Update of Census Addresses program – also known as the “LUCA Program” – was created by the U.S. Census Bureau as an opportunity for state and local governments to provide a complete and accurate address list in their communities. Without addresses, the census does not know where to locate individuals in order to count them.
The State of Connecticut has committed to participating in the LUCA Program and it needs local governments to join in the effort.
In Connecticut, addresses are created, assigned, and maintained by local governments – there exists no accurate Connecticut statewide database of addresses. The importance of local governments to participate in the LUCA program cannot be understated.
The LUCA program may seem overwhelming at first, however the census provides numerous ways for municipalities to participate. If a municipality has GIS staff, it can provide digital data to the census from them. If a municipality does not have GIS capability, the census will provide free software to utilize. And, if a municipality would simply like to compare their paper address list to the census’s address list from the 2010 count, the census will provide that list.
A lack of technology or technical expertise should not be a limitation. In addition, municipalities may designate an organization to conduct the LUCA update on their behalf. A local council of government, local health district, or any other organization may be able to assist.
If the prospect of reviewing a municipality’s entire address list against the census list seems overly burdensome, it is recommended that local governments at least review any new addresses created since 2008. While the last census was in 2010, the last address review was in 2008. Generally, new addresses are the most critical information for the census to capture. Limiting a review to new addresses created in the last ten years should require less time and effort, while still enhancing data for Connecticut.
Since the census only occurs once every ten years, the foundation of our ability to effectively plan for the coming decade could be compromised. The LUCA program may be the only opportunity for local government to contribute to an accurate count for Connecticut. For all of these reasons and more, municipalities are strongly encouraged to participate.
How to Get Involved
Municipalities interested in participating should download and submit the registration forms found on the website of the U.S. Census Bureau.
Nonprofit organizations and community groups can also help develop a strategy to count hard to reach populations. Those interested in getting involved can contact the State's Census Liaison:
Tyler Kleykamp, Chief Data Officer
Office of Policy and Management
These are the municipalities in Connecticut that have committed to participating in the LUCA program to help improve our state’s data for the 2020 census:
[List updated 12/5/17]
- Ashford town
- Barkhamsted town
- Beacon Falls town
- Bethlehem town
- Bloomfield town
- Bridgeport city
- Bristol city
- Burlington town
- Colebrook town
- Coventry town
- Darien town
- Durham town
- East Hampton town
- East Hartford town
- Essex town
- Fenwick borough
- Groton town
- Guilford town
- Hartford city
- Hebron town
- Manchester town
- Marlborough town
- Mashantucket Pequot Reservation Reservation
- Montville town
- Naugatuck borough
- Newington town
- Norfolk town
- Oxford town
- Roxbury town
- Seymour town
- Sharon town
- Southington town
- Stafford town
- Stamford city
- Suffield town
- Thomaston town
- Tolland town
- Torrington city
- Trumbull town
- Vernon town
- Waterbury city
- West Hartford town
- Windsor town