December 6, 2021
Every 10 years, the U.S. Constitution requires a census of everyone in the nation, wherever they happen to live on April 1. You, your neighbor, students, immigrants (both documented and undocumented) — they all must be counted.

Those numbers determine how much state and federal aid a community may get, and county, state and federal representation. You count in more ways than you can imagine. In this package that began Saturday, Feb. 22, here’s what you need to know.

You count: The coverage

Day 1: More than just a number

All the ways you can be counted: by computer, by paper, by phone. And the questions you’ll be asked.

Day 2: Where will you be April 1?

Students in Cortland on April 1 will be counted too - and the college provides them with opportunities to help with counting.

Day 2: Census includes immigrants, undocumented

Immigrants, documented and undocumented, will be counted across the country. Here's what will be done.

Day 3: How do we use the data?

From government aid, to community planning and academic research — here’s how the information is used.

Census: It’s a gold mine of info with many uses

Cortland Standard managing editor Todd McAdam discusses the importance of the census and how it can be used to help our journalists better inform the public.

Our Opinion

You count, make it count

You count. And just as importantly, you need to be counted.

The decennial census is coming in just a few weeks. Your household will be asked a few questions — via computer or phone, maybe on paper. The questions are simple. Who are you? How old are you? What’s your sex and race? What about other people in the household?

Answer them. Be counted. It’s important for the future of your neighborhood, the entire greater Cortland area, and you, too.

Here is how that information will be used:

It will decide who represents you. Census data are used to determine federal, state and county legislature districts. By law, all three must create districts that represent similar numbers of people. Shifts in population change the borders of those districts and therefore, who represents you at all levels of government.

It will help planners and policy makers understand your community and its needs. The U.S. Census Bureau compiles entire libraries full of data on how your community lives and works — right down to what it calls the “census block,” or neighborhoods of just a couple hundred households. Those populations move, they get older or younger, richer or poorer, better eduation or less. Understanding how your neighborhood works and evolves helps the policy makers find ways to make the place better.

It will decide how much government aid you benefit from. More than $675 billion, and perhaps close to $900 billion, each year in government spending is allocated based, in part, on census data — who lives where. That money helps provide child-care, health-care, good roads, education, economic development and environmental protection. And many more programs, too. The greater Cortland area won’t get as much if the census doesn’t know you’re here.

Even if you don’t think you’re here, you’re here. Residency is determined by where you live on April 1. If you’re a student in this community on that day, this is where you reside. You’re counted here. If you’re an immigrant here — legal or not — on April 1, this is where you reside, even if you think you may some day return from whence you came.

Individual data will remain confidential. It will not be shared with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It will not be shared with Internal Revenue Service, or telemarketers or door-to-door salesmen or whatever else may make you nervous.

So when the notice comes in a couple of weeks, pay attention. Make sure you are counted. Make it count.

Because it does.