Editorial: Census 2020: Local Leaders Urge People To Participate

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 03 June 2020 17:54

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Census is mandated every 10 years to count the population in all 50 States and their local districts. Counting the population on a local level serves as a basis for dealing out federal funding for expenses such as schools, public transit, road improvements, and other projects such as infrastructure improvements.
The more people that participate, the more federal funding a city and county will likely be able to obtain.

During the Council's Tuesday May 12th, meeting, Assistant Town Manager Ed Parvin explained the U.S. Census Bureau began mailing out 64 million paper census questionnaires on April 14th. Completion of the 64 million will take up to another 4 weeks."

He explained, "As a reminder, the survey can be taken on-line (2020Census.gov), over the phone or completing the paper questionnaire and mailing it back. Total time to complete the 12 questions is about 5 minutes. Completing the census questionnaire is required by law."

The Census Bureau extended the self-response timeline for completing the census. The previous deadline of July 31, 2020 has been moved to October 31, 2020.

The 2020 Census count will inform where and how billions of dollars in federal funding are spent, the political representation for North Carolina, and data used to make decisions for the next decade. An accurate count of all citizens and households in New Hanover County will help ensure the community receives support for public safety, education, family support services, healthcare, human services, environmental protections, economic development, emergency response, public transportation, and more.

While the Census began in March, participation has  been low. Largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and  a delay in Census workers visiting area residences. Currently New Hanover County has a 45% response rate.

Councilman Lynn Barbee questioned who were the people most likely not to respond to the Census and how to reach out and encourage them to participate.

Councilman Jay Healy said, "So ten years ago we finished at 65%, so we are well behind that number right now. It's extremely important that we finish above 65%. The interesting number to me is out of the 33.8 where we are at right now, over 31% of it was done on the internet. So that's the avenue they are taking. It takes four minutes, get it done."

Barbee said don't wait for the card to come in the mail, because many people have not received those cards. He said, "Just go online and fill out the Census."

What is the census?

• Think of it as a head count that includes every individual living in the U.S.
• Every ten years, each household nationwide is asked to fill out a brief questionnaire about all the people living in your home.

This means everyone. Babies, children, aunts, grandparents, cousins, friends – anyone who resides in your home as of April 1, 2020.
• Questions include the number of people in your household, basic information about these individuals like age or race, and how they are related to you.
• You will not be asked to provide a social security number, political affiliation, or proof of citizenship. Information you submit is 100% confidential and protected by federal law from use by ANY law enforcement agency.

North Carolina receives $16 billion from federal funding every year for programs based on Census counts. In North Carolina, every missed person (uncounted in the census) represents a loss of roughly $16,000 in funding for the state. New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington, along with elected officials, nonprofit leaders, and community advocates, have collaborated on a "Cape Fear Counts" campaign to help ensure every person in our region is counted in the 2020 Census. To complete the Census, visit www.2020census.gov

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