Published April 1980 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Stand Up and Be Counted! A national endeavor has begun that will determine our citizens representation in Congress, the marketing strategies of corporations, and the distribution of $50 billion in government aid. It is called the U.S. census. The Census Bureau last month sent out questionnaires across the country, not only to tabulate the official population of the United States, but also to gather other statistics that it considers necessary for our complex society. An estimated 300,000 pages of data will be culled, including information on housing, education, ethnic origin, income, and employment. New questions were asked this year which will help determine national energy usage and travel-to-work patterns. The primary purpose of the census as stipulated in the First Article of the U.S. Constitution is to provide an accurate head-count for the apportionment of our country's 435 U.S. Representatives. These statistics also are employed by states to draw their Congressional districts for assuring balanced representation. In addition, the distribution of about $50 billion in federal funds is based on the most recent population count. The census figures affect the allocations of federal revenue-sharing money, as well as funds for educational programs, health care, employment opportunities, housing assistance, and highway building. But the census is not a tool only for use by the government. Private industry relies on demographic data obtained from the census for the development of marketing strategies, the building of new plants, and the recruitment of personnel. The nation's first census was taken in 1790 by U.S. marshals who tabulated a population count of 3.9 million. Today, the Census Bureau depends on sophisticated computer technology to compute an accurate head-count, projected to be 222 million this year. Similarly, West Virginia has shown dramatic changes in 1its population. Several years after the birth of the Mountain State, its population was figured at 442,014. Today it is projected to have a count of 1.8 million people, nearly a 6 percent increase over 1970.