A lot of people move around America. Even a year with records lows moving rates, in 2016 11 percent of Americans moved, accounting for over 30 million people. Human migration is a big problem for the US government. Fund allocation, interstate planning, and even representation are all based on the census, which is done every 10 years! There is something you can do about it (other than not move). Fill out the census, register to vote, and accurately report your residence.
It’s hard for the government make big moves when they are not sure who there to benefit and how much money is available for continued funding. Plus the people who could benefit the most from good census information — poor, rural, minority groups — are the people who don’t fill out the census.
Migration in America
While people in America may not move as often as those in other places, even a migration to the suburbs of the same area can wreck havoc with funding, resource allocation, and even representation! The number of congressmen your state receives is directly tied to the amount of people in your state as represented in the last census. This is a huge deal, since minority groups move more frequently than their Caucasian counterparts, and are less likely to fill out the census.
Human migration in America is a bureaucratic nightmare that affects every level of civic planning, especially for poor and minority groups. Budget cuts to our primary method of handling it could have catastrophic consequences, since a lot of census errors are caught in audits or house-to-house check ups.
Why It’s an Issue
Migration makes it difficult to fund public works, plan resource allocation, and make the government work like it is supposed to. For example, Idaho uses property tax to fund schools, libraries, and highways, which means if the state loses high value properties or if people move, those vital structures lose, on average, more than a thousand dollars per person. That makes setting out an accurate budget difficult; sure, you could base it on the number of taxes received in the previous year, but changes within a community (like a flight to the suburbs) means the difference between making the highway better or building out public transport.
When the government can’t get an accurate idea of how many people live where, it makes it hard to plan resources for those people. Human migration is one of the largest roadblocks in accurately measuring the amount of people who live in an area.
What You Can Do About It
You should move if you want to. When you move, make yourself known, register to vote, change your address with the post office, and push for solutions in your state that will help the surrounding towns. Most moves are within the same area, so escaping to the suburbs or moving closer to work means you should still try to be involved with your old neighborhood. Just because you don’t live in the city anymore, doesn’t mean you should vote against a train, library, or school in that area.
People moving around in America is a logistical nightmare. It makes it hard to get people the resources and representation they need. The best way America, as a nation, has to account for population shifts is with census numbers and estimates. But with cuts to the census that information will only become even less accurate, affecting the efficiency of all government efforts. Step up when you move and register to vote, change your address, and continue voting to help the neighborhoods around you (don’t let your suburbs suck the city dry).
Mary Grace is a freelance human based out the beautiful Boise, ID. She loves hiking, skiing, and human interactions. Comment down below or tweet her @marmygrace with any questions or suggestions. She’d love to hear from you.