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Respond to census today

It’s vitally important for the future of our community that everyone who lives in Suffolk is counted in the census.

According to the Census Bureau, data from the census informs federal funding for more than 100 programs, including school lunches, highway construction, housing and lots more.

There are lots of state- and local-level decisions made using census data, as well. The results show where communities need new schools, new clinics, new roads, and more services for families, older adults and children, the Census Bureau website states. For example, an area composed mostly of older adults may not need a playground but could use a senior center.

Many people know data from the census is used to determine how many seats each state gets in the House of Representatives, and where those districts are drawn. But state and local voting districts, right down to the precinct level, are also drawn based upon precinct data.

Census results also matters to businesses, as they provide a rich database on population trends, growth projects and more. Business owners may rely upon census results to make decisions like where to open new stores, restaurants, factories or offices. They might decide on where to expand operations, where to recruit employees and which products and services to offer.

Distrust of government at all levels is a big reason many people don’t respond to the census. They fear their answers will be used against them, either by the government itself or by some hacker that steals the data.

The Census Bureau is bound by U.S. Code to keep answers confidential, and identifiable information about you, your home and your business cannot be released to anyone — even law enforcement agencies, according to the Census Bureau’s website.

Answers are used to produce statistics only, and secure technology helps defend against and contain cyberthreats.

If you can’t or don’t want to respond to the census online or by phone, you can wait for the fourth piece of mail from the Census Bureau, which will include a paper form.

For more information, visit 2020census.gov.