One year from now, the 2010 U.S. census will begin and Gov. Jon Corzine, municipal officials -- and political leaders -- want New Jerseyans to understand how important a proper head count is to everyone.
For taxpayers, the results of the census will determine how the federal government doles out $300 billion to state and local governments. It will also play a major role in determining the remaking of the state's congressional district.
“Stand up and be counted,” Corzine said at a Statehouse press conference today. “The recent federal stimulus program that provided funding to states according to their population shows just how important it is that New Jersey receives its fair share based on an accurate count of every resident in the Garden State.''The governor said the aid, particularly during difficult economic times, is very important for supporting hospitals, schools, transportation and social services. The census is also a foundation for democracy. Census results are used to apportion seats in the US House of Representatives and to redraw the boundaries of state legislative districts, congressional districts and even some voting districts.
Assemblyman Joe Cryan (D-Union), state Democratic Party chairman, said later a reliable census count will be important when it come to reappointing the 120 seats in the Legislature in 2011 and the state's 13 Congressional districts in 2012. Presently, there are 8 Democrats and 5 Republicans representing the state in Congress and Cryan noted that is the population decreases by as little as 25,000, the state could lose a seat.
"People have no idea of the impact the census has on federal funding never mind politics,'' Cryan said.
Tom Wilson, state Republican Party chairman, said, "An accurate count may never be more important as we fact the prospect of losing a seat due to the exodus of people leaving New Jersey.''
Wilson said he foresees a potential population decline mainly affecting the shape of Congressional districts in the state's northeast where the population is declining and in the northwest and coastal areas where it is growing. He said Republicans will be targeting freshman Rep. John Adler (D-3rd.) in the Camden County area in the 2010 election in the hope of gaining a seat bef ore reapportionment in 2012.
In 2007, the Census Bureau set New Jersey's population at 8,685,920, a 3.2 percent increase over the 2000 figure of $8,414,350,000.
Controversy followed the 2000 count when New Jersey officials complained of major undercounts in cities such as Elizabeth, Paterson, Plainfield, Jersey City, Newark, and Camden.
Taking the initiative in preparing for the 2010 count is the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, the Trenton-based lobbying arm for municipal government. “Municipal leaders understand the importance of the census and we encourage them to engage local civic, community and faith-based organizations to reach out to their constituencies to provide grass-roots support for a complete count in New Jersey,” Corzine said.
The New Jersey State Data Center has started a "NJ's Counting on You'' promotional campaign to raise awareness of the census.
“The State Data Center is the lead agency in cooperation with the US Census Bureau to make sure that every New Jersey resident is counted,” said Labor Commissioner David J.Socolow. "Counting every resident of extreme importance to our state, the Census 2010 could create thousands of jobs starting this year and through July, 2010. We urge job seekers to visit our One-Stop Career Centers to learn more about these opportunities.”
As New Jersey’s lead agency on the census, the State Data Cent er is creating a so-called Complete Count Committee to reach out to residents and deliver a basic message to a diverse population. That message is that the 2010 Census is easy – simple and fast to complete and return. Officials noted the Census Bureau cannot share an individual’s answers with anyone including federal, state, and local agencies.
Officials are hoping the Complete Count Committee program will improve the rate of mail responses to Census questionnaires, particularly hard-to-count areas and non-English or limited-English speaking households.
For more information on the Complete Count Committee go to: http://2010.census.gov/2010census/pdf/CCCBrochure6-5-08 ..pdf or call a Regional Census Center. The New York region’s phone number is 1-212- 584-3400. The Philadelphia region’s phone number is 1-215-717-1800.
The Census Bureau is expected to hire thousands of individuals to assist with the census. The positions will range from clerical staff and enumerators to professional and managerial positions i n the local census offices. For more information on Census jobs, go to the nearest One-Stop Career Center, which can. visiting: www.nj.gov/labor or by calling the toll free number: 1-877-872-5627. Visit the 2010 Census web site at: http://2010.census.gov/2010censusjobs or call the Census toll-free jobs line at 1-866-861-2010.