City/County Info: 503-823-4000
1221 SW 4th Ave, Suite 110, Portland, OR 97204
The census is a national effort required by the Constitution every 10 years. We have just one chance each decade to count every person in the United States. According to the US Census Bureau, “The decennial census is the largest mobilization and operation conducted in the United States and requires years of research, planning, and development of methods and infrastructure to ensure an accurate and complete count.”
The census is our most comprehensive, coordinated effort as a country to collect information that helps us understand who lives here and how our communities are shifting. It helps us understand who we are, where we live, and how we are changing over time.
Census data also determines funding and electoral representation decisions such as the following:
Representation: The census determines how many representatives each state gets in Congress. Census data are also used to redraw district boundaries that impact state and local representation. Oregon is likely to gain another member in the U.S. House of Representatives contingent on results from the 2020 Census.
Funding: The federal government distributes more than $675 billion every year to states and communities based on Census Bureau data. Oregon’s current portion of annual federal funding based on the 2010 census is around $13.5 billion
Other Resources: Local governments, communities, and businesses use census data to make decisions regarding emergency preparedness, schools, roads, hospitals, and other important resources and policy decisions.
Everyone in our city matters. We want everyone to count.
In coordination with other bureaus and agencies, the Office of Community & Civic Life is committed to ensuring that we have a complete community count in order to ensure that we have tools to more meaningfully connect our communities to each other and to decisions that shape all our lives.
Individuals in some communities are often excluded from the census—children, people of color, immigrants, people experiencing houselessness, and others. Those often “undercounted” by the census are often the ones historically excluded from public decision-making, equitable economic opportunities, and access to basic resources. Civic Life will work in concert with community and agency partners to reach what the US Census Bureau refers to as “hard-to-count” populations.
The overall response rate for Portland in the 2010 Census ranged between 80-83%. That is, one in five Portlanders were not counted. Experts estimate Oregon left $1 billion annually in federal funds on the table due to this undercount.
Civic Life requested and City Council approved $600,000 in the FY 18/19 and 19/20 budgets to increase the “hard-to-count” return. We will be collaborating with the Census Equity Funders Committee of Oregon to develop a coordinated and aligned strategy led by these communities to do this important work in the coming year.
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