Alabama residents have just a few weeks to complete the 2020 Census with a Sept. 30 deadline fast approaching.
With billions of dollars in federal funding and at least one congressional seat at stake, state and local leaders continue to push for a boost in census responses in the final weeks.
As of Tuesday, the Census Bureau reported a 61.7% response rate from Alabama, still four points behind the national average.
Idaho, West Virginia, Washington, Kansas and Oregon were listed as top five states, with response rates ranging from 91.4% to 97%, according to total enumeration counts collected by the Census Bureau as of Tuesday.
According to the Alabama Census website, states with the least population gains are expected to forfeit congressional seats to states that exhibit the most population gain.
“The population count taken in the 2020 Census will determine the allocation of the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives,” the site states. “The loss of a Congressional representative would mean one less critical voice advocating for Alabama on the national stage. The only way to potentially avoid this outcome is for all Alabamians to participate in the 2020 Census.”
According to the same site, funding for programs that affect communities on a more local level are also in jeopardy.
“Funding to Alabama for many important programs that affect health care, education, housing assistance, infrastructure development and more is tied in some form to census data,” the website explains. “A recent study by George Washington University indicates that the U.S. government returned almost $1,600 to the state in 2015 for every Alabamian counted in the census.”
Those funds directly impact assistance programs, education, and infrastructure in Lawrence County, as the allocation for funding is based on population counts as well.
“We were told last time, in the 2010 Census, that we left $32 million on the table on terms of government funding because we didn’t get an accurate count,” Lawrence County Schools Superintendent Jon Bret Smith said.
The Bureau’s data showed 63.7 percent of Lawrence County households had responded as of Tuesday, with Moulton exhibiting the highest response rate at 68.7%.
Town Creek trailed with 66.8% response, Hillsboro reported 58% response, and Courtland had 53.1%. North Courtland reported 49.5% response as of Tuesday.
The Census Bureau began in-person visits in August to households that had not yet responded to the census, and will continue fieldwork until the final deadline when self-response options will also close.
The United States Census is conducted every ten years nationwide, and residents are required by law to participate.
Individual responses collected in the census are compiled with information from other homes to produce statistics, which never identifies a census participant or any person listed in their home.
It typically takes less than ten minutes to complete the census form online, according to the census website. Census takers may preview the questions online at 2020census.gov, and participants may fill the survey out online using a computer, tablet or smartphone.
Census takers may also choose to respond by calling 844-330-2020. Phone lines are open every day from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Central Time.
For more information or for answers to frequently asked questions, visit www.2020census.gov.