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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about the Census and what all the numbers really mean.


TOOMEY: One, two, three, four . . .

CURWOOD: In 1790, George Washington sent the first federal census-takers across the new nation with orders to, quote, "enumerate every individual." The Constitution mandates a population count every ten years to apportion Congressional seats, but today's Census, which is now officially underway, has become more than a simple head count. It's a statistical snapshot of the nation, telling us such things as how many Americans live alone, take public transportation to work, and heat their homes with oil. The data is used to assess and plan federal programs. For example, Census data can inform efforts to reduce traffic congestion and forecast fuel needs. Each year, 185 billion federal dollars are awarded to local communities, based on the Census results. That works out to $673.95 for every American living in the USA at the moment. And that certainly counts for something.

TOOMEY: Two hundred seventy-four million four hundred seventy-six thousand six hundred fifty-two. Two hundred seventy-four million four hundred seventy-six thousand six hundred fifty-three. Whoo!

CURWOOD: And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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