On April 1st, a critical tool of empowerment was put in the hands of our communities -- the official 2010 Census form. Along with voting, filling out your Census questionnaire may be the most important act of empowerment any citizen can do. An accurate census count will determine how much federal money your community receives for schools, hospitals, senior centers and a host of other crucial community services. It will also determine how many seats your state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives. And as Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman, Barbara Lee recently said, "In Congress we utilize Census data to identify those communities disproportionately affected by issues such as poverty, unemployment and health care disparities. The more complete the Census count, the more accurate and targeted our policy solutions will be as we work to create jobs…"
If you haven't done so already, I urge you to fill out and mail back your Census questionnaire today. It only takes a few minutes. And the confidentiality of your answers is protected by federal law.
As chair of the 2010 Advisory Committee, I can tell you that an unprecedented effort has been made to ensure that we don't have a repeat of the 2000 Census when more than 4 million people, largely in minority, poor and immigrant communities were missed. In addition to a $133 million advertising campaign, the National Urban League and other civil rights and civic organizations have led a coordinated outreach effort designed to increase Census participation in communities of color.
Another benefit of the Census is jobs. April 1, Census Day, also coincided with the release of the Labor Department's monthly employment report. The report shows that of the 162,000 jobs created during March, 48,000 were Census jobs. While the overall unemployment rate has leveled off at 9.7 percent, African American unemployment remains much higher, at 16.5 percent and Hispanic joblessness also exceeds the national average at 12.6 percent. That is why it is so important that our communities get to the front of the recruitment line for the hundreds of thousands of Census jobs that are being created between now and July. These jobs are primarily part-time, but the pay is good and the work experience could lead to something better down the road. Anyone who is out of work and interested, should contact your local Census Bureau office today. To learn more about Census jobs in your area, click on the Jobs@Census link at www.census.gov or call the 2010 Census Jobs Line at 1-866-861-2010.
The National Urban League has designated this our centennial year as a year of empowerment. Participation in the Census is critical tool of empowerment that will help ensure that communities of color are not left behind when it comes to government resources. But as the Census Bureau slogan says, "We can't move forward until you mail it back." If you haven't already done so, do it today. To learn more about the Census and the National Urban League's empowerment campaign, log on to http://IAMEMPOWERED.com.
Marc Morial is the President & CEO of the National Urban League.