McEneny holds census talk at G'land library

"Our library gets 28 to 35 cents per person, per year, from the state for each person that lives in our district," said Randall.

Randall also said the census also has a historical significance with regards to the study of geneology, of which the census is a key source of information.

It was for that purpose, the study of history and geneology, that McEneny began his work with the census.

"I was interested in the census very early because I was a local historian," said McEneny, adding that the census provided information for his book, "Albany: Capital City on the Hudson."

In the beginning of his talk McEneny said he wanted to debunk the myth that the census is a long, complicated, and time-consuming form. "The census is a 10-question survey. It's very simple," said McEneny.

McEneny said in 1940 the census devised a two-tier system, with the decennial census being a short form mailed to every household, and an elaborate form, known as the American Community Survey, mailed every two years to a small percentage of households.

He explained the importance of each person being counted in the decennial census: "If you miss one person, the cost of not counting the person is that you will suffer for 10 years in that undercount."

For example, if the state is awarded $500 by the federal government for each resident and a person in Guilderland is not counted in the upcoming census, the state will lose $500 each year until the next census, making the total cost of the undercount $5,000.

According to McEneny, the questions on the census change to reflect the times. He said in 1880 the census asked a question on employment, reflecting the harsh economic situation at the time. In 1940 the census asked a question on indoor plumbing, reflecting the modernization the country went through in the early part of the 20th century.

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