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Washington Retail Insight

NRF Says Census Survey Should Remain Mandatory

By J. Craig Shearman
Washington Retail Insight
May 9, 2012

NRF is telling Congress that an annual survey conducted as part of the U.S. Census should continue to be mandatory despite a House vote to kill it.

“ACS is vitally important to the retail industry because it allows retailers to better serve their customers,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said. “Retailers use ACS data to make decisions on a daily basis concerning investment in new facilities, the availability of qualified workers and the need for job training programs, the characteristics of the communities we serve, and the need for new stores.”

French’s comments came in a letter to members of the House, which on Wednesday first used a voice vote to pass an amendment to make the American Community Survey voluntary, then voted 232-190 to eliminate its funding. The votes came as the chamber considered Census Bureau funding as part of the annual Commerce Department appropriations bill.

The survey replaced the long-form version of the Census and is sent out to about 3 million U.S. homes each year to collect information on the labor force, education levels, transportation patterns, housing, language, ethnic diversity, disabilities and other issues.

Making the survey voluntary “would diminish the quality of the vital data it yields,” French said.

© 2012 National Retail Federation

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