African-Americans are more difficult to count because of apathy, privacy concerns, fear of repercussions and distrust of government, according to the Census Bureau.
A national media campaign totaling $200 to $250 million will address those concerns. For example, the bureau will emphasize that census responses are confidential and cannot be shared with law enforcement. Bureau employees must protect the information or face up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
The bureau also is seeking to hire 500,000 temporary workers across the nation in 2020. Up to 2,900 of them will be hired in the Atlanta area, including office staff and census takers who will visit households that do not respond to the survey.
Also, the agency is teaming up with local census booster groups and African-American advocacy organizations, including Black Men Count, a Fair Count initiative that former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and former Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams announced in May.
“It is about representation. It is about making sure that our communities have access to resources,” said Ryan Wilson, co-chairman of Black Men Count and co-founder and CEO of The Gathering Spot, a private membership club in Atlanta. “If we do it correctly, it gives us the opportunity to truly have a voice in our community.”