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by Elizabeth Nolan Brown, AARP Bulletin, December 1, 2009
Think the U.S. Census doesn’t affect you? Think again.
Data from the census—a count of everyone living in the United States—is used to draw boundaries for seats in Congress and state legislatures, and to make decisions about how to allocate more than $400 billion in federal funds.
“It is vital that older Americans are accurately counted to ensure that decisions made regarding health care and other services are based on the most accurate and up-to-date information,” says Rebecca Blank, undersecretary of commerce for economic affairs at the Department of Commerce.
The count begins April 1. Starting in March, all U.S. households will be mailed a 10-question form, one of the shortest forms in history. Census workers will hand-deliver forms to isolated areas and group homes.
Bilingual English and Spanish forms will be available, part of an effort to accurately count minority populations, Blank says. Forms are also available in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Russian. Everyone is legally required to fill out the form.
All information collected is kept confidential. The form will not ask about legal status or Social Security numbers—any form doing so is a fake, the Census Bureau warns.
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