2010 Census: Why Is It Good for Business?

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Since 1790, as required by Article 1, Section 2 of the US Constitution (and every 10 years since), our country conducts a census. The 2010 US Census got underway in April 2010 and will continue until the counts are reported on December 31, 2010.

What Do You Know About the Census?

According to a Pew Center Survey, 84% of Americans have heard of the census. An additional 8% recognize it when it’s described as the count of all people living in the United States. 64% are aware that the census is used to decide each state’s number of representatives in Congress. 59% know that census results impact the amount of federal funding for local communities.

It’s the Law

Yet far less than half—only 31% of Americans—know that completing the census is a legal requirement. 46% don’t think that participating in the census is required and nearly a quarter (23%) don’t know. So a combined 69%, which is most Americans, are either misinformed or uninformed about the census. With these kinds of statistics, it’s a little easier to see why there is so much public outreach by the Census Bureau.

Small business owners should also be hoping for an accurate count. Why? Free market research and increased business opportunities. After the counting is complete, communities will receive federal funding for things like schools, emergency services, and hospitals. Knowing in advance that there will soon be one or two new hospitals near you could impact your business.

Who Cares About Hospital Contracts?

When a big influx of dollars comes into a community through hospitals, creative entrepreneurs take note. According to an article in Naperville Magazine, Kelly Billington, a divorced mother of two living in Illinois, started a business called Bella Baby. Working out of her small home, Billington specialized in taking pictures of babies and children.

After years of working in cramped quarters, she thought that she could take pictures of infants in hospital rooms. Most hospitals allow parents to purchase photos of their newborn babies, so Billington approached several hospitals about using her photography services. Close to a dozen hospitals agreed, including one that already had a longtime relationship with a larger photography firm.

Business owners that read data gathered from the census just may be able to anticipate new opportunities that could come their way.

Market Research

While new information is being gathered for the 2010 Census, data from the 2000 Census is available now. Granted it’s a bit dated, but it contains some useful information, including the median incomes of Americans by state and region, and all sorts of facts about America’s journey to work.

In Alabama, 1,414 people reported that they biked to work. 25,360 reported that they walked to work. 254,693 people who did not work at home reported that they had a commute of less than 10 minutes. Of workers who did not work at home, 317,590 reported that they left for work between 7:00 am and 7:29 am.

For someone considering opening a bike shop in a particular area, it makes sense to know the number of people riding bikes. Knowing how many local residents bike to work is a good place to start.

The 2010 Census will record this particular moment in time for posterity. We must all do what we can to take our places in history. So, stand up and be counted!

More info:

Census in the Constitution: Why Jefferson, Madison and the Founders Enshrined the Census in our Constitution.

Most View Census Positively, But Some Have Doubts, January 20, 2010.

How It Affects the Nation: We Can't Move Forward Until You Mail It Back

Picture Perfect, by Dawn Klingensmith.

Bella Baby

Alabama Journey To Work: US Census Bureau (2000).