Monday, March 1, 2010

Census Day 2010

Back on November 22, 2009 I posted an entry ("Community Banks and the 2010 Census") about the importance of the Census for communities such as East Los Angeles and Santa Ana - the Bank's two service areas.  Since Census Day 2010 is one month away (April 1, 2010) I thought I would provide an update to my earlier commentary.

As I stated back in November, the Census count determines how approximately $400 billion is disbursed across a multitude of federal programs.  The larger the population, the larger the portion of the pot.  As such, communities benefit by an accurate count and are penalized by an undercount.  The City of Los Angeles estimated that it lost out on roughly $20 million per year as a result of the 2000 Census undercount.

In the January/February issue of Hispanic Business Magazine Rob Kuznia addressed the challenges faced in obtaining an accurate census count ("Census Budget Bigger Than Ever, But Some Officials Predict a Miscount").  According to Mr. Kuznia, "at about $15 billion, the outlay for the once-a-decade event is nearly three times the amount of the Census budget in 2000.  Still, prominent experts predict that the 2010 Census will overlook many more people than the one in 2000, which undercounted the U.S. population by millions."  Yikes!  Three times the budget but fewer counted?  What's up with that?

Back in November I stated that "as a local corporate citizen it is in our best interest to maximize investment dollars in our community. Investments boost the standard of living of our customers, attract additional investments into the community and generate the need for financial products and services provided by community banks."  In his article Mr. Kuznia quoted Clara Rodriguez, a sociology professor at Fordham University and author of "Changing Race: Latinos, the Census and the History of Ethnicity in the United States," who concurred.  According to Ms. Rodriguez, "There's always been a lot of activity around this, but that activity in the past has been in the background, not at the forefront.  Now it's much more in the open.  I think more and more people are realizing how important the Census is."

Census officials estimate that the 2010 edition of the Census will show 306 million Americans of which 46 million will be Latino.  If accurate, that figure will show a rise in Latinos from 12.5% at 2000 to 15% in 2010.  Further, Census predictions show Latinos growing to between 21 and 31 percent of the total population by 2050.  That means up to one-third of the U.S. population will be Latino in 40 years. 

With roughly 40% of Latino household unbanked or underbanked, according to a recent FDIC study, I'd say this little Latino bank has its work cut out for it.


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