Why the Census matters


By Courtney MidKiff - Contributing columnist



In the midst of a world-wide COVID-19 Pandemic, the U.S. decennial census goes on as it has since 1790. The U.S. Constitution mandates that the country count its population once every 10 years. Homes began receiving their invitation to respond to the 2020 Census between March 12-20. These official Census Bureau mailings include detailed information and a Census ID for completing the Census online.

You should have received yours by now. Have you completed it yet via paper, phone or online? I am proud to say that I have.

This is a breakdown of Meigs County residents’ responses as of March 24, 2020:

Meigs County: 25.8 percent total

Pomeroy: 25.0 percent total

Rutland: 17.3 percent total

Middleport: 25.9 percent total

Syracuse: 4.9 percent total

April 1st Census Day is observed nationwide. Help shape your future, and your community’s future, by responding to the 2020 Census. The 2020 Census provides a snapshot of our nation — who we are, where we live, and so much more.

The 2020 Census counts everyone living in the United States and its five territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). One person should respond for each home. That person must be at least 15 years old. They should live in the home or place of residence themselves and know general information about each person living there.

The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to protect your answers and keep them strictly confidential. In fact, every employee takes an oath to protect your personal information for life.

Over the next decade, lawmakers, business owners, and many others will use 2020 Census data to make critical decisions. The results will show where communities need new schools, new clinics, new roads, and more services for families, older adults, and children.

The results will also inform how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding are allocated to more than 100 programs, including Medicaid, block grants for community mental health services, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, and also for hospitals, fire departments, school lunch programs, and other critical programs and services.

The results are used to adjust or redraw electoral districts, based on where populations have increased or decreased. State legislatures or independent bipartisan commissions are responsible for redrawing congressional districts. The U.S. Census Bureau provides states with population counts for this purpose.

The 2020 Census will be valuable to businesses, as the results will provide a rich set of data on the communities they serve, including population trends and growth projections. Business owners rely on census results to make decisions, such as where to open new stores, restaurants, factories, or offices, where to expand operations, where to recruit employees, and which products and services. The results of the 2020 Census will help determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding flow into communities every year for the next decade. That funding shapes many different aspects of every community, no matter the size, no matter the location.

Think of your morning commute. Census results influence highway planning and construction, as well as grants for buses, subways, and other public transit systems.

Think of your local schools. Census results help determine how money is allocated for the Head Start program and for grants that support teachers and special education.

The list goes on, including programs to support rural areas, to restore wildlife, to prevent child abuse, to prepare for wildfires and provide housing assistance for older adults.

In conclusion, the 2020 Census is underway and the most important thing you can do is respond online, by phone, or by mail when you receive your invitation. Responding now will minimize the need for the Census Bureau to send census takers out into communities to follow up, thus, decreasing their COVID-19 exposure risk.

Thank you in advance for being a part of the CountMEigs movement. Meigs lives do matter so we want and need a 100 percent response rate.

Source: www.census.gov

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By Courtney MidKiff

Contributing columnist

Courtney Midkiff, BSC, is the Meigs County Health Department Administrator and a Meigs County Complete Count Committee Member.

Courtney Midkiff, BSC, is the Meigs County Health Department Administrator and a Meigs County Complete Count Committee Member.