US Census Bureau director visits UAA

by Austin Osborne  |   

U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham and UAA Chancellor Cathy Sandeen “drop the puck” at the Seawolf hockey game Jan. 18. (Photo courtesy Skip Hickey)

On Jan. 18, U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham visited the UAA campus and met with Chancellor Cathy Sandeen to discuss the 2020 census before enumeration kicked off in Toksook Bay on Jan. 21. Chancellor Sandeen had the opportunity to chat about the importance of the census with Director Dillingham before the pair headed to the Seawolf Sports Complex to “drop the puck” and ceremonially mark the start of the UAA hockey game held that evening. During his time in Anchorage, Director Dillingham also met with a number of other residents and community leaders.

Census data helps shape decisions about how federal funds are spent for schools, emergency services and health care in the community. The census is also an important resource for UAA researchers who use census data as a basis for studies on a range of topics, such as employment and education trends in Alaska. For example, researchers in UAA’s Institute of Social and Economic Research have used census data to study state employee compensation, Anchorage population trends, factors driving the cost of education and more. 

For the last three decades, the first census enumeration has taken place in remote Alaska villages. In 2000, the census kicked off in Unalakleet, followed by Noorvik in 2010. This year, residents of Toksook Bay, a rural village located roughly 115 miles west of Bethel, were the first in the nation to be counted. Despite 2020 Census Day being months away, the U.S. Census Bureau begins enumeration in remote Alaska villages in January to avoid accessibility concerns as frozen ground thaws and transportation becomes more difficult. Additional challenges stem from an influx of rural Alaska residents leaving their communities to fish, hunt or pursue other employment opportunities as temperatures rise heading into the summer months. 

Residents of Alaska’s larger communities, including Anchorage, will respond to the 2020 census in mid-March along with the rest of the country. To learn more about the 2020 census or read about the first enumeration in Toksook Bay, visit

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