Last week, the Trump administration shortened the Census deadline by a month as the government scrambles to get an accurate count amid the pandemic.
When the coronavirus pandemic began, the deadline for the 2020 census was extended from mid-August to late October. The Census Bureau announced in early August that it would require the survey to end September 30. Advocates for marginalized communities have warned that the new deadline could result in a severe undercount of people in largely Black and Latino neighborhoods, and rural areas.
Complete the Census TODAY at my2020census.gov.
Federal funding for elections, education, free and reduced lunch programs, and other community programs is determined based on census data, and an inaccurate count of people in under-represented areas could result in years of insufficient funding. The shortening of the deadline, particularly during a pandemic that’s driven response rates down, will be catastrophic for political representation as well as community funding.
Policymakers use census data — both the total population count and population characteristics — to allocate about 1.5 trillion federal dollars to the states. These funds fuel more than 300 programs, such as Head Start, Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. A census undercount would leave these programs underfunded — and unable to meet the needs of kids, families and communities.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, each state’s population count informs its seat count. The government relies on decennial census data — more specifically, the total number of citizens, noncitizens and overseas federal employees in each state — to divvy up these seats and ensure a fair apportioning of political power among all 50 states.
Census data also shape the political landscape within states by informing the boundaries of local school, voting and legislative districts.
Communities — city planners, businesses, real estate developers and policymakers — review census data to better understand the needs of local residents and neighborhoods. Leaders then use this information to plot how and where their communities must evolve. The resulting changes are wide-ranging — from new schools and better business incentives to extra bus routes and public safety improvements. Flawed census data, on the other hand, can have real and lasting consequences, such as overcrowded classrooms, unsafe roads and overflowing emergency rooms.
A number of federally produced statistics also rely on census data, including national unemployment and crime rates, births, deaths, school performance measures and Consumer Price Index calculations.
If you haven’t already completed the Census, time is running out.
Approximately 4 million North Carolinians still need to be counted or we risk losing an estimated $74 billion over the next decade. Every household is urged to turn in their census form. Help our communities receive the resources and representation they deserve.
Respond TODAY at my2020census.gov or call 844-330-2020.