Previously in Linguistic Anthropology for Fall 2017, my fellow students and I learned about the US Census and had David Kraiker, a Data Dissemination and GIS Specialist from the Census, talk to the class about what the organization does. As 2020 is fast-approaching, so does the new census to be given out to people residing in the United States. Every decade since it’s inception, the U.S. Census Bureau formulates a new questionnaire for people to answer. The purpose is to collect accurate demographic information and data that can be beneficial for policy making and record keeping. Data collected is publicly available and informs everything from the building of new schools to managing hospitals. As noted in recent news reports and blogs, they have also been used electorally to gerrymander districts. The important and daunting task of data collecting has a wide-reaching impact; what kinds of concerns are raised then when changes are made to the questions asked? A widely reported and controversial change is the addition of a question pertaining to participants’ citizenship status. The addition of the citizenship question for 2020 is now very likely as the Supreme Court is poised to allow the question into the survey.
On 3 December 2018 the Language Maps, Language Clouds team had the opportunity to interview David Kraiker of the US Census Bureau who has visited our classroom in the past to share free ways to use ACS language-related data. Below is an overview of the conversation; boldface sections summarize the LMLC team’s questions. To listen to the audio file, click here.
What made you want to work for the Census? David started working at the US Census Bureau after a stint at a map publishing company. He was attracted by better compensation, but he continues to work for the Census Bureau because he is able to help with encouraging the use of data in the hope of improving society. “What makes me want to work for the Census Bureau…I do more for society in this job than I did when I was creating atlases. People are using the data that we have, I hope for good purposes and it’s a way of improving society”.