Why the 2020 Census is important

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Courtesy of the
City of Opelika

The 2020 Census is very important to the future of our state. We all need to stand up and say “I Count” by completing and submitting our Census forms in 2020.

The U.S. Census Bureau conducts a census of the United States every 10 years, going all the way back to 1790. The data collected during the census is used in a variety of ways that affect decisions regarding community services provided to residents and the distribution of more than $675 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year. This funding supports local programs for schools, health care, community assistance, infrastructure and other important needs. The census also determines the number of representatives each state will have in Congress.

The census counts every person – both adults and children – living in the United States. This information helps monitor changes in communities and is used to identify and address public service needs such as health care, education, public safety, housing, food, and rural access to broadband.

We All Have Something to Lose

 • Many Alabamians directly benefit from the federal programs whose funding allocations are determined in part by census data. In fact, it is about $1,600 per person in Alabama. Completing a census form will help ensure that Alabama receives its fair share of funding.

• The assistance programs tied to census data are critical to all Alabamians. They support children, education, hospitals, health care, rural development and community programs that are important to rural communities. If this funding is reallocated to other states due to a poor census count, then the funding for the missing services will have to be made up in some way at the local or state level. This affects everyone.

• Alabama is currently at risk of losing a congressional representative in the 2020 Census due to projected slow growth. That means one less voice for Alabama values at the federal level. We need maximum census participation to retain our current congressional representation.

We Can be a Force for Change

• Your voice matters. We all have a say in the outcome of the 2020 Census, and it can end with Alabama’s fair share of funding secured and with fair congressional representation.

• All you have to do is complete and return your 2020 census form. It is a simple civic duty.

• The U.S. Census Bureau has mailed a packet to every Alabama household. It includes information on how to complete your census form in three ways. 1. Online via computer or smart phone 2. Call a toll-free number and complete it over the phone with a U.S. Census Bureau employee 3. Call the toll-free number and request a traditional paper form. Some rural areas with low internet access received a paper form in the first mailing.

• The information you submit will be basic household information and is private and will not be used against you in any way or for any other purpose. It is against the law for your information to be shared or used by another agency.

Both rural and urban Alabama will be key to the state’s success in 2020 Census. More than 40% of Alabamians live in rural areas.

• In 2010 many rural areas, particularly in west Alabama, had among the lowest response rates in the state. Pockets of urban the state’s urban areas also experienced lower response rates. We need everyone’s help to raise the participation level for 2020.

 • The end goal is maximum participation. Don’t sit on the sidelines. Show them that you count, that Alabama Counts by completing your census form.

Announcing an added incentive, Mayor Gary Fuller made the following statement earlier this week: “Opelika, it’s important the you’re counted. Right now we’re at 68.2% on the census. We need 85%. If we can get to 85%, I will dye my hair red. I will dye it red, and I will keep it red for a week. Let’s get to 85%. Please, it’s important for our schools, for our communities, for new sidewalks, for a lot of things that require federal money.” Fuller delivered the message wearing a red wig as a preview of what is to come if Opelikians participate.

Opelika’s mark of 68.2% is higher than Alabama’s as a whole (61.7%), Lee County’s (61.1%) and Auburn’s (57.7%).

For more information visit www.census.alabama.gov.

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