State Leaders Kick Off Final Year of Census Preparation

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

SACRAMENTO – Today Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto) joined key state leaders, advocates, and community members for a press conference to highlight California’s efforts to ensure a complete and accurate count in the 2020 Census. Among them were Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, and Dolores Huerta. The press conference kicked off the 2020 Census Call to Action, a week-long effort to raise awareness about the federal decennial census.

Photo credit: Assembly Democratic Caucus

“The 2020 Census will shape California’s future for the next decade. Accurate Congressional representation and billions of dollars in federal funding are at stake," said Assemblymember Marc Berman, chair of the Assembly Select Committee on the Census. "California is a big, bold, beautiful, diverse state – and because of that, we’re also the hardest to count in the country. With 365 days until the start of the 2020 Census, I am grateful for all of our community partners who are actively engaging our most vulnerable and hard-to-count populations whose participation is critical to our success in securing a complete and accurate count of all Californians.”

The United States Constitution requires the United States Census Bureau to conduct a survey of everyone living in the country every ten years. Census data is then used to determine the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives and to distribute billions of dollars in federal funding for healthcare, education, and infrastructure. The California Department of Finance estimates that for every Californian not counted in 2020, state and local governments will lose $1,950 per resident per year. 

California has historically been difficult to count due to its size and diversity. More than 20 percent of California’s populated areas are considered “hard-to-count” – regions where the self-response rate to the census questionnaire has been low. Federal inaction, a new untested method of response to the census questionnaire, and the possibility of a widely-criticized citizenship question will further exacerbate difficulties reaching California’s immigrant and low-income communities.

That is why California has made an unprecedented investment in education and outreach, and is organizing earlier than ever before, with better coordination.

State leaders have made a significant commitment to support statewide census outreach and communication efforts by investing $100.3 million toward strategies and activities that will help ensure an accurate and successful count in California. Governor Newsom’s FY 2019-20 proposed budget includes an additional $54 million to bolster the state’s efforts. Funding will be divided for a statewide media campaign, including local ethnic media, to help close any gaps in especially vulnerable and hard-to-count communities as well as distribution to regional, county, tribal, and local government for outreach and associated programmatic costs. 

Last year, the California Census Office convened a series of meetings throughout the state to provide information about the state’s census outreach strategies and facilitate local planning for the 2020 Census. Informed by those meetings, the California Census Office is developing a statewide community-engagement campaign that supplements the United States Census Bureau’s efforts and is intended to reach the hardest-to-count communities throughout California.


Contact: Kaitlin Curry, (916) 319-2024