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Why completing the census is essential for local workforce development efforts

Members of the Philadelphia Works team make the case for getting counted in turbulent times.

"Ask me! I'm a census champion." (Photo by Hector Davila Jr.)
This is a guest post by Community Outreach Representatives Candice Woods and Johnetta Frazier, Outreach and Communications Manager Dawn Thomas, and Communications Assistant Damarah Brown of Philadelphia Works.

COVID-19 has impacted our daily lives in peculiar ways. Even in these difficult times, people are looking for ways to help. From donating masks to supporting local businesses to buying groceries for elderly neighbors, community members have stepped up to support one another.

While following CDC guidance to maintain good hand hygiene and practice social distancing are priority in protecting our public health, completing the 2020 census is priority to protecting our future and the future of generations to come.

Let’s be clear, there is a lot at stake as it relates to census 2020. Getting an accurate count in Philadelphia is crucial to ensuring that we receive our fair share of representation and federal funding for not only the next decade, but for the next time we face an economic crisis, as we are seeing now from the impact of COVID-19. The results of the 2020 census will be used to determine the level of representation and decision-making power that we have on the local, state, and federal levels of government. It also serves as the basis of funding allocations for some of the most critical public services that our city needs. These services include, but are by no means limited to:

Although COVID-19 has severely impacted the local workforce and economy, Philadelphia Works, the City’s workforce development board, continues to help employers develop a strong talent pipeline by connecting career seekers to opportunities in these uncertain times.

Philadelphia Works relies on federal, state and local funding to manage and invest in smart workforce solutions that respond to business needs and increase economic opportunity for all residents. Examples of those solutions include the operation and management of our local PA CareerLink centers, much of the programming for the City’s youth system, industry partnerships for the most robust business sectors in our region (currently manufacturing, hospitality and entertainment, and IT), pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs, and innovative projects such as Women in Nontraditional Careers (WINC) and pay-for-success in partnership Comcast and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

In Philadelphia, the likely impact of an undercount could be extremely detrimental to our economic sustainability and growth. According to new data from the Fair Census Project and Civics Analytics, it’s estimated that 2.3% of all Philadelphia residents will be left out of the 2020 census. That means we stand to lose funding that could go toward building up our communities, strengthening our economy, and securing resources to help Philadelphia residents, particularly families, thrive.

Philadelphia Works is working with the U.S. Census Bureau and Philly Counts to promote and drive home the importance, safety, and ease of completing the 2020 census.

Complete the census

Since the decennial census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution, it is one of the few national events that cannot be postponed. Certain regions of Philadelphia have traditionally had “hard-to-count” communities due to communication barriers such as language, trust, and lack of knowledge regarding how data is stored and used. The COVID-19 pandemic has already greatly impacted and delayed the aggressive outreach campaign planned by the U.S. Census Bureau and Philly Counts. Together, the two organizations rolled out an assertive recruitment strategy to provide temporary employment to residents that would allow them to earn extra money and help their communities. Unfortunately, many people who were presumed to fill positions are now unable to do so because of the pandemic.

To help with recruitment, Philadelphia Works will be hosting a webinar in the coming days to raise awareness of the importance of census count and to detail the employment opportunities and benefits of working for the U.S. Census Bureau. To stay informed on news from Philadelphia Works, sign up to their contact list here.

Filling out the census in the safety of your own homes has never been easier. Not only can it be filled out by phone or mail, but this year also marks the first time that the census can be completed online at Filling out the census and becoming a community ambassador for your neighbors is the best way to make sure that you and your city count.

Companies: Philadelphia Works

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