The U.S. Census Bureau is required by the Constitution to conduct a count of the population every 10 years. The Census provides a historic opportunity to secure full and accurate data about the population in the United States and is vital for our nation’s workers and their families.

Census information is used to allocate more than $300 billion in federal and state funding. Decisions on matters of national importance for working families, including health care, community development, housing, education, transportation, social services, employment and other vital programs, are guided by the Census.

Additionally, Census data are used to determine how many seats a state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives and in drawing boundary lines for federal, state and local legislative districts. Census data also are used to monitor and enforce key anti-discrimination laws and civil rights statutes, such as the Voting Rights Act.

People of color and those whose primary language is other than English were the most undercounted in the 1990 and 2000 censuses. As a result, minority voting rights were diluted; low-income and disadvantaged communities were disenfranchised in the apportionment of congressional districts among states as well as in federal, state and local redistricting; and federal funds and government services to many low-income communities were disproportionately low. Ensuring a fair and accurate Census is one of the most significant civil rights challenges.

The AFL-CIO supports the U.S. Census Bureau in its goal of assuring a complete and accurate count in 2010. While the Census itself takes place beginning in mid-March 2010, the Census Bureau must accelerate performing critical groundwork, including finalizing plans to implement the outreach, community partnerships and other tasks needed to ensure success in 2010. Toward that goal, we urge Congress to provide full funding for the Census Bureau in Fiscal Year 2009 and in Fiscal Year 2010 to ensure the count is fair and accurate for all communities.

We urge all affiliates to encourage their members to fully cooperate in the count in 2010 and to let their members know that the 2010 Census, which hires scores of workers to engage in the count, creates hundreds of thousand of jobs across this nation and every Census worker is sworn to protect the confidentiality of the information gathered.

We urge all unions, state federations and central labor councils to work with local Census Bureau staff in their communities to ensure a full and accurate count for Census 2010.