The 2020 Census: Why It’s Important to Participate

Photo: Marcus Mariota
NFL Quarterback Marcus Mariota is among the celebrities with Pacific Island roots encouraging Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders to be counted in the 2020 Census. - Photo: Courtesy The Kālaimoku Group

Read this article in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

By John Aeto

Shape Our Future: United States Census 2020

One of the fastest growing groups, the “Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander” population accounted for 1.2 million people in the United States, according to the 2010 Census. It’s only one of the trends that will be watched following the 2020 Census count that begins this year.

Native Hawaiians are the largest population of Pacific Islanders living in the United States. And as more Hawaiians leave the Islands for jobs and affordable housing, a major milestone event is expected to be uncovered by the 2020 Census. It’s projected that the 2020 Census will show that the majority of Native Hawaiians live on the continent.

Though a first for Native Hawaiians, they’re not the first Polynesian group to move away from their home islands. Nearly four times the number of Samoans live in the United States as compared to the number living in American Samoa. Emigration from Hawai‘i, the Mariana Islands and American Samoa began at the turn of the 20th century, increasing after World War II. With increased costs of living, and rising seas and temperatures, Pacific Islanders are even more likely to relocate.

The upcoming 2020 Census will provide important data showing the continued growth of “Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders” in the United States—and that data can be used in many important ways to benefit the population as a whole.

“Pacific people have the power to shape our own future and contribute to a greater cause,” says NFL quarterback Marcus Mariota. “As people of the Pacific, it is our right to be counted in the 2020 Census.”

Not only will it document the movement of Pacific Islanders, but the 2020 Census will determine how billions of dollars in public funds will be spent annually over the next 10 years. Census results help shape the community you live in. Public funds are used to assist with schools and education, and with health care clinics and hospitals. They are also used to fund repair work on roads and highways, and for new fire and emergency services.

These funds also bring huge benefits to government sponsored organizations and programs that positively affect the “Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander” community. The money can be funneled through nonprofit organizations focused on the needs of “Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders” that also address health, well-being, childcare and research programs.

But the community won’t get these benefits unless the population is counted and the need for those funds is proven. That’s why everyone’s participation in the Census is important.

Look for your invitation to participate in the 2020 Census in the mail by April 1. Learn more at