Nielsen's CEO says asking for citizenship status on the 2020 census will hurt the economy

Michael Seto/Business InsiderCEO David Kenny: ‘The last thing that business needs is for the next 10 years of data to be built on a faulty foundation.’
  • Nielsen CEO David Kenny urged the Supreme Court not to allow the Trump administration to ask about citizenship status in the upcoming 2020 census survey.
  • In a New York Times column, Kenny says businesses rely on the census to make decisions regarding consumer behaviour, and asking for citizenship will result in flawed data.
  • Though Kenny is the first CEO to speak out directly against the inclusion, many business leaders have criticised President Trump’s immigration policies as being bad for business.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Asking for citizen status is bad for business, argues the CEO of market research behemoth Nielsen.

CEO David Kenny has called for the Supreme Court to vote against adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census, a nationwide survey that occurs once a decade. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Tuesday regarding whether the Trump administration can ask the question, “Are you a citizen of the United States?

Businesses rely on accurate data to track consumer behaviour, Kenny wrote in The New York Times. Asking for immigration status will result in an under count, as undocumented workers will not take the survey in fear of deportation. Business leaders will have inaccurate information regarding US consumer behaviour, impacting sectors from healthcare to finance, Kenny argues.


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The Trump administration wants to make a major change to the 2020 US census

Kenny called the economic impact of these decisions “enormous,” and warned thousands of jobs are at stake if businesses are not given the highest quality data.

“Even a small error in the census can be amplified over and over again as the data is used in new and ever evolving ways,” Kenny wrote. “The last thing that business needs is for the next 10 years of data to be built on a faulty foundation.”

10.7 million unauthorised immigrants lived in the US as of 2016, according to the Pew Research Center. Undocumented workers make up 4.8% of the overall workforce, with agriculture having the biggest share.

Though Kenny is the first major CEO to speak out specifically against asking for citizenship in the 2020 census, other business leaders have criticised the Trump administration’s immigration policy, including Tim Cook and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. In 2018, 60 CEOs sent a letter to Homeland Security, arguing that deportations will ultimately harm US businesses.

“As the federal government undertakes its legitimate review of immigration rules, it must avoid making changes that disrupt the lives of thousands of law-abiding and skilled employees, and that inflict substantial harm on US competitiveness,” business leaders wrote.

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