NEWS23 May 2019

Census experts testify in Congress

FMCG Finance News North America Public Sector Retail

US – Census experts from the Insights Association and George Washington University were among those to testify in Congress on the economic impact of the 2020 census.

US census questionnaire

At a hearing of the Joint Economic Committee yesterday ( 22nd May), experts outlined the ways in which businesses use federal data to make decisions.

There are concerns over how the accuracy of the census could potentially be impacted by lower turnout resulting from the proposed addition of a citizenship question and cancelled field testing in rural areas.

Speaking at the hearing, Howard Fienberg, vice-president of advocacy for the Insights Association, said: "The dependence on accurate census data of American businesses, especially the marketing research and data analytics industry, drives our advocacy for adequate resources for the Census Bureau over the whole decennial lifecycle."

Discussing the importance of census data to manufacturers, financial analysts and retailers, Fienberg said: "Data-driven decisions are even more reliant on accurate census data when they involve small or hard-to-count demographic groups or areas. Starbucks can easily open another coffee shop in Manhattan’s financial district, but it takes the most accurate census-based insights to justify one in rural Arkansas."

Andrew Reamer, research professor at the George Washington Institute of Public Policy, George Washington University, also testified, saying the American economy and businesses would "suffer" as a result of any inaccurate data.

Reamer said: "The vitality of the nation’s economy and the six million businesses inside that economy are greatly affected by decisions made using census-derived data—by businesses themselves, of course, and as well as by the federal government, state and local governments, workers, and students."

Mary Jo Hoeksema, co-director of the Census Project, said: "This hearing laid out a strong factual basis for why our stakeholders believe strongly that the Census Bureau should be ensured full funding in the current Congressional Appropriations process. Insufficient, delayed, or uncertain full-year funding for the 2020 Census jeopardises the agency’s ability to meet its constitutional mandate and can have serious negative consequences for America’s businesses and our economy."

Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee advanced a government funding bill that would prevent the Census Bureau from including the citizenship question, The Hill reported. The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision on the matter in June.