Census interviews start

Posted on Mar 03 2020

Expect the CNMI Census to knock on your door any time now.

The CNMI Census officially started “the count” following the launch of the 2020 Census Enumeration Phase last March 1 on Tinian and March 2 on Saipan.

Essentially the “count,” the Enumeration Phase is when the community should start seeing CNMI Census workers, in uniform and with two ID badges, going door to door to do interviews in every household.

The 2020 Census’ goal is to count everyone once, only once.

“We do want to make sure that we count everybody—newborn babies, older people, relatives living with you. If you have a border or renters living in your home, everybody in the household needs to be counted,” said U.S. Census adviser Colleen Joyce.

The enumerators will introduce themselves, show their badge, give a confidentiality notice, and then conduct the actual interview.

“They’ll introduce themselves, they’ll show you their badge, they’ll hand your confidentiality notice, which assures you that all the information you give them is confidential. Then, they will go into the actual interview,” Joyce said.

An interview would take an average of about 45 minutes per household, depending on the number of people residing in the house.

There are over 200 Census enumerators in the field, spread all over the islands, who would be conducting interviews until May 30, 2020. Follow-up interviews will take place until June 30.

To ensure language accessibility, Census also hired interpreters who know Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Bengali, on top of the enumerators who are versed in Chamorro, Carolinian, English, and Tagalog.

The translators, like the enumerators, went through the 16-hour basic training, and have also sworn to protect confidentiality of the information they will be receiving.

Furthermore, Census also wants to make the interview process convenient for everyone. Appointments are allowed in cases of missed or unfinished interviews, or, when translator services are needed.

“Our enumerators are trained. Allow them to work with you in interviewing you in the right time that’s convenient for you and your family,” Census manager Claudio K. Norita said.

Census stresses that everyone in the CNMI needs to be counted.

“These numbers determine billions of dollars on how federal funding is distributed. The information Census we gather about the households is used to determine different federal programs and used by the CNMI government as well to plan things,” Joyce said. “HUD [Department of Housing and Urban Development] uses our data, FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] will use our data, Health and Human Services, at the federal level, they all use our data to determine communities and what their needs are and to decide where to implement their programs, as well as the funding.”

The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census of the population be conducted every 10 years. Census statistics are used to determine the number of seats each state holds in the U.S. House of Representatives and inform how billions of dollars of federal funds will be allocated by state, local, and federal lawmakers every year for the next 10 years.

Iva Maurin | Correspondent
Iva Maurin is a communications specialist with environment and community outreach experience in the Philippines and in California. She has a background in graphic arts and is the Saipan Tribune’s community and environment reporter. Contact her at iva_maurin@saipantribune.com
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