Prepare to be counted

SUFFOLK COUNTY—It’s been happening every 10 years since 1790—the U.S. Census, which compiles pertinent data to give a broad overview of everything from population density to housing numbers and earning power of the inhabitants of this country. The last time the census was counted was in 2010 and then there was a five-year survey update in 2017. Next year, the forms will begin to arrive once again in mailboxes and now online, too. And even sooner than that, Suffolk County is hosting a job fair, because in addition to counting people, some of them will have an opportunity to earn money during the whole process.

Last week, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced the formation of the all- volunteer Suffolk County Complete Count Committee to ensure accurate census reports. Gov. Cuomo also appointed Bellone to the NYS Committee.

The committee will be composed of local governments, business organizations as well as ministerial and community organizations. Suffolk County extended invitations to over 80 organizations to become a part of the committee. These groups will work to increase awareness of this vital report and encourage everyone to participate.

“An accurate U.S. Census count is vital to not only ensuring everyone is represented, but to [ensure] Suffolk County residents get the appropriate state and federal funding,” said Bellone. “Through the work of the Suffolk County Complete Count Committee, our communities can rest assured that Suffolk will be as prepared as possible to guarantee everyone is counted regardless of race, gender, age or sexual orientation.”

In addition to funneling money where it is most needed, the census is the basis for receiving the right number of representatives on all levels of government since that representation is based on population. It ensures the best distribution of funding for health care, law enforcement, education and infrastructure. While general information gleaned from the census is readily available once the tallies are completed, personally identifiable information is not, since it is, by law, protected for 72 years.

The founding fathers of this country mandated the census for the new republic (Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution). The first census was taken in 1790, barely a year after President George Washington took the oath of office. Thomas Jefferson was chief administrator of the survey.

Here are some interesting statistics taken from the U.S. Census website (www.census.gov). In 1790, the census counted inhabitants of the 13 states and the “districts” of Kentucky, Maine and Vermont, as well as the southwest territory known as Tennessee. The population was determined to be 3.9 million, but only 3.6 million was the number used to apportion representation.

By 1890, there were 42 states in the Union. The population was listed as 62,979,766. By 1990, with 50 states total, the population increased to 248,709,873. In 2000, the population jumped to 281,421.906 and increased 10 years later in 2010 to 308,745,538. The 2018 population estimate for the U.S. is 327,167,434.

We are no doubt a country that continues to grow. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case in Suffolk County, where the growth appears to be slower and even slightly less populated. The 2010 census shows the population for the county to be 1,493,350. By the 2017 survey, the population dropped to 1,492,953. Islip Town was estimated to have a population of 335,543 in 2010. A five-year (2013-2017) American Community Survey estimates the population to have decreased slightly as well to 335,302.

“The 2020 census is critical to every community in Suffolk County, and the creation of this [Suffolk County Complete Count Committee] will help make certain everyone is counted,” said Ian Hull, deputy regional director of the New York Regional Census Center.

A Suffolk County-sponsored job fair and a not-for-profit information session will be held on Feb. 28 at a place and time to be determined. Job fairs will continue in the subsequent months giving Suffolk County residents the opportunity to apply for census jobs, which are generally well paid. The salary range is $17 per hour to $35.50 per hour.

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