As you’ve probably already heard several times this year, the United States is conducting its census this year beginning next month. As mandated by Congress, every 10 years our nation attempts to count every single resident living within its borders, and this inventory of people living in the country breaks down the way federal spending is distributed among the 50 states.

It’s a small task, that should only take a few minutes of your time when you choose to fill out this year’s census form--which you can now do online--but the outcome translates to hundreds of thousands of dollars being put aside for our state. So when you see the slogan, “You count,” know that every single resident in Alabama counts for $1,600 in federal funds for Alabama’s public programs and infrastructure. 

The U.S. Census began in 1790, and data collected in the census affects decisions regarding community services and support for local programs. It determines how much is spent for schools, health care, community assistance, infrastructure, and even federal funding to bring broadband to rural areas. Each of these programs and public services are in dire need of continued support and an accurate count is crucial when it comes to securing the funding from our federal government. 

The census also determines the number of representatives each state will have in Congress, and Alabama is in danger of losing one depending on an accurate count. 

The goal of the census is to count every single person, both adults and children, living in the United States. When you fill out the 2020 census, residents are asked to count every person, whether they are a family member or a friend, living and sleeping in their household most of the time. 

Young children, especially children of split families, newborns, roommates, or anyone who is renting space in your home are the people most often missed during the census count, according to the U.S. Census website. When people are missed in the count, they are also missing out on resources for themselves and their communities for the next 10 years.

The census website breaks down ways to determine you are providing an accurate count if you are in doubt, but the easiest way to be sure you’re accounting for everyone is to include anyone staying in your home on April 1. Also remember to count newborns, even if they were born on April 1 or if they are still in the hospital at the time you respond to the census. 

Remember that you do in fact count, and by providing accurate information on the upcoming census, you are securing access to federal funding in your state as well as your local community, and you’re ensuring your voice is among millions of others being heard from your corner of the country. Remember to respond to the census by April 1, and do your part in contributing to Alabama’s count.

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