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Written by Lilly P., Sprout Volunteer

If you are wondering why you are required to fill out the U.S. census data, you are not alone. The importance of the collected data is often overlooked but, according to C.N. Le, Professor at University of Massachusetts Amherst, “…an accurate count of the U.S. population forms the basis for many important but often overlooked political, economic, and social decisions that are made that end up affecting our daily lives.”

Census information affects the numbers of seats your state occupies in the U.S. House of Representatives. And people from many walks of life use census data to advocate for causes, rescue disaster victims, prevent diseases, research markets, locate pools of skilled workers and more.

When you do the math, it’s easy to see what an accurate count of residents can do for your community. Better infrastructure. More services. A brighter tomorrow for everyone. In fact, the information the census collects helps to determine how more than $400 billion dollars of federal funding each year is spent on infrastructure and services like hospitals, bridges, schools, senior centers, job training centers, and emergency services.

Accurate data reflecting changes in your community are crucial in apportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and deciding how more than $400 billion per year is allocated for projects like new hospitals and schools…that’s more than $4 trillion over a 10-year period for things like new roads and schools, and services like job training centers.

Sending your personal information out via mail to a complete stranger can be rather nerve racking, however, there is little to no need to worry about protecting your private information because Title 13 of the U.S. Code protects the confidentiality of all your information. In short, violating this law is a crime with severe penalties in addition to other federal laws, including the Confidential Statistical Efficiency Act and the Privacy Act reinforce these protections. Also, each and every one of the Census Bureau employees take the oath of nondisclosure and are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of the data. Violating the other does not just result in a slap on the wrist, rather it is a very serious crime with serious consequences, like a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment of up to 5 years. The best and safest way to protect your data is to quickly fill it out when you receive the census form and promptly mail it back to the return address.

Source: www.2010.census.gov