SHOW LOW – The US Census kicks off on April 1, 2020.
“It happens every 10 years and is constitutionally mandated,” informed US Census Partnership Specialist Kimberly Robinson during the August 21 Show Low city council meeting. The federal government is sending partnership specialists like Robinson from town to town and city to city to prepare residents in order to obtain the most accurate population count possible.
The information collected by US Census Bureau determines the number of seats each state has in the US House of Representatives and is also used to distribute federal funds to local communities.
“Responding to the census is extremely important because it means funding,” adds Robinson. “There’s $675 billion dollars in state and federal funding coming to the country once the results of the 2020 census are shared with the senate in December 2020.”
“A lot of funding comes from population counts through the census,” assured Show Low Administrative Services Director Justin Johnson.
“This funding can make a difference when residents ask for facilities and services like libraries, an aquatic center, pickleball courts or fixing potholes,” added Planning and Zoning Director Justen Tregaskes, also during the council meeting.
Census representatives will be coordinating with community groups, sending letters and working to get the word out, (especially in rural areas of the country), over the next several months. This is because rural areas are of special concern due to previous “non response rates” of up to 25 percent, according to Robinson.
“The number-one reason people don’t respond to census takers is distrust of government,” answered Robinson in response to Show Low Mayor Daryl Seymore’s question of why the non-response rate was so high in past years.
“What we want people to understand is that all data is protected by federal law for 72 years,” assures Robinson. “We don’t match names with data and all census workers take an oath to protect information.”
Children ages 0 to five are always undercounted and so are rural areas, said Robinson. Non-English speakers are also undercounted so it’s important to create awareness before the census begins next year.
For the first time this year, people can respond to the Census online and over the phone as well as the traditional method, via paper.
For more information about the US Census, visit www.census.gov or call 1-800-852-6159.