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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release April 1, 1999


Next year, our nation will begin work on one of our nation's most important responsibilities -- ensuring a full and accurate Census count. Every ten years, since the beginning of our nation, we have taken count of our country -- not only to more effectively guide our nation's government but to find out who we are as a nation. This has enormous consequences for how we distribute the bounty of America and for how we shape the policies that guide our country.

Unfortunately, our country's last census was the first census in our history to be less accurate than the one preceding it. According to the Bureau of the Census, the 1990 census missed 8.4 million people and 4.4 million others were counted incorrectly. While missing so many people is a problem in itself, the fact that certain groups were missed more often than others only underscores the importance of ensuring an accurate count.

Nationally, 4.4% of African Americans were missed in the 1990 Census; 2.3% of Asians and Pacific Islanders were undercounted; 5% of persons of Hispanic origin were missed; and 12.2% of Native Americans living on reservations were undercounted in 1990. With two million children undercounted, they were the most overlooked group of all. Though children made up approximately 26% of the entire U.S. population, they made up 52% of those undercounted.

We can do better and we must do better. This is too important and historical a responsibility to allow millions of Americans to go uncounted. It is vitally important that we count every American for one simple reason: every single American counts.

That is why President Clinton and I are committed to helping make next year's census, the first of the 21st Century, the fairest, most accurate, and most complete census for America.