Black ExperienceNational

Census Funding Troubles Latinos, Blacks

Advertisers who decide to cut back on placing ads in newspapers continue to miss opportunities that have proven effective and that reaches certain underserved populations.

Despite a recent study by the research firm Benchmarking for Newsworks that revealed the importance of advertising in local newspapers — particularly community-oriented dailies and weeklies that cater to Latinos, African-Americans and other minorities — advertisers, most notably the U.S. Census Bureau, are not heeding the message.

According to a report from NBC News, Latino, African-American and other minority populations could be disproportionately undercounted for the 2020 census because of insufficient funding requested by President Donald Trump.

The report noted that, despite population growth, the bureau has already been hindered by a congressional mandate to spend no more than the $13 billion spent on the 2010 census.

Trump’s 2018 budget proposal for the U.S. Census Bureau comes in lower than President Barack Obama’s 2017 request. Because of existing budget concerns, 2017 field tests in areas of Puerto Rico and the mainland U.S. have been called off, too.

Because of this, newspapers that serve Latino and African-American communities are certain to feel the fallout.

“It has taken our communities several decades to trust a new government and system,” said Martha Montoya, chair of the National Association of Hispanic Publications, a trade advocacy organization representing the leading Spanish language publications serving 41 markets in 39 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, with a combined circulation of more than 23 million.

“Reduction of a crucial budget during this turbulent and confusing time of information is not acceptable to ensure and keep the trust of this system,” Montoya said. “It’s counterproductive to this country embracing our Hispanic community.”

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a trade organization that represents the 211 African-American-owned newspapers across the country with more than 22 million readers, said any cuts to the census budget would be counterproductive to its stated mission.

Despite slowing growth rates, Latinos still accounted for more than half (54 percent) of total U.S. population growth from 2000 to 2014, according to Pew Research.

Hispanics drove at least half of overall population growth in 524 counties that had at least 1,000 Latinos in 2014. In these counties, Hispanic population growth accounted for 54 percent or more of total growth. The South accounted for 46 percent of these counties, compared to 24 percent in the West, 18 percent in the Midwest and 12 percent in the Northeast.

Additionally, individuals of color are set to become a majority of the American working class by 2032, according to projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Census Bureau projects that America’s population will be comprised of a majority of individuals of color by 2043. The transition means that, although the non-Hispanic white population will remain the largest single group in America, the combined populations of all nonwhite racial and ethnic groups will make up more than half of the U.S. population.

Trump’s proposed budget calls for $1.5 billion for the U.S. Census Bureau, but an overall 16 percent cut to the Commerce Department, which the Census Bureau falls under.

But, as noted in Science Magazine, advocates for the government’s largest statistical agency said Trump’s request jeopardizes the upcoming decennial census and other important surveys.

“It’s troubling and irresponsible,” said Terri Ann Lowenthal, a former congressional staffer and veteran census watcher. “If the president’s $1.5 billion proposed budget for the Census Bureau were to stand, not only would the success of the 2020 census be threatened, but other irreplaceable surveys likely would be on the chopping block.”

Further, as a past census partner and conveners of Latino organizations to support the census outreach efforts, the Minnesota Council on Latino Affairs (MCLA) expressed concerned over the reduction of the advertising budget, which they said would have devastating effects in minority communities that have experienced a growth not seen in the 2010 census count.

“These populations need culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach and information to trust the process and participate in the effort, particularly when Latinos and other immigrant families are fearful of increased immigration enforcement activities in their communities,” said Rosa Tock, the legislative and policy director for MCLA. “This is why Latino news outlets are so important to help connect and reach out to these communities. But for this, appropriate funding is necessary to support their work and also to design a comprehensive and coordinated outreach strategy.”

Cutting the advertising budget will reduce the participation of the Latino population which would reduce counts in traditionally Democratic areas and lead to a reduction in representation and receipts from programs that depend on the counts, said Eileen Crimmins, professor of Gerontology at the Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California.

Several civil rights organizations and census experts also expressed concern.

“Communities of color, urban and rural low-income households, immigrants, and young children are all at risk of being missed at disproportionately high rates,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

“The health and well-being, as well as the political power of all of the diverse communities The Leadership Conference represents, rests on a fair and accurate count,” Henderson said.

The persistent undercount of the nation’s second largest population group represents a civil rights issue, said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Education Fund.

“Unless we bring all Latinos out of the shadows and into the light in census 2020, the Latino community will continue to have disproportionate access to fair political representation and public services,” Vargas said. “Congress must make the investments necessary today to ensure an accurate and cost-efficient count of Latinos tomorrow. Anything less would mean a failed census 2020.”

Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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