Listen to Magic… Or it Will Cost You

One year before the 2010 census will be taken nationwide, Los Angeles city leaders asked people to accurately report their information in order to maximize representation and federal funding for the next decade.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, joined by council members, Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas, said the 2000 Census undercounted the city's population by about 78,000 people. The miscalculation caused the city to miss out on $200 million in federal funding, they said.

The census "forms the foundation of the number of representatives we send to Washington from each state, the amount of money our families get for health care, the resources directed to our schools and our classrooms, and the level of funding going to our cities and local government," Villaraigosa said.

Starting Monday, thousands of volunteers from the U.S. Census Bureau will begin the work of verifying more than 145 million addresses and identifying every space where people live or could potentially live.

Nine years ago, the most undercounted people included young children, minorities, recent immigrants, the homeless and renters, the mayor said.

"We're sending the message loud and clear -- every person counts," Villaraigosa said.

The U.S. Constitution requires that a national census be completed every 10 years. The census asks each member of a household to identify their gender, age, race, whether they own or rent their home and to describe their relation to other members of the household.

The information that is provided to the federal government will remain confidential and only be seen by sworn census employees, said Jamie Christy, director of the U.S. Census Bureau's Los Angeles office.

"This census is the simplest census in our history. This questionnaire is 10 questions long and should take the average household 10 minutes to complete. That's fewer questions than it takes for you to get your own MySpace Web page," Christy said.

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