Fair representation, federal funds at stake
With a little more than two weeks before the deadline for the 2020 Census Count, Jones County is still below its response rates in 2010 and 2000.
The deadline to respond and be counted in the 2020 Census is Sept. 30.
Jones County Complete Count Coordinator Joy Carr said the most recent data shows the county’s response rate at 63.1 percent. That is a 1.4 percent increase from the last data release but still shy of the 66 percent count in 2010 and 64 percent in 2000.
“People can still complete their census form on their own and don’t have to wait for a census worker to come to their door,” Carr said.
She said to respond online to my2020census.gov and click Start Questionnaire or dial 1-844-330-2020 to speak with a representative to complete the census.
The coordinator said it is important to remember the Census count is not just about federal dollars allocated for the next 10 years to states and communities.
“The census also determines how many U.S. House of Representative seats are allocated to each state,” she said.
Carr explained the House is comprised of 435 seats, and that number does not change. She said the seats are allocated to the states based on population, which is counted every 10 years through a complete count census.
“In 2010, Georgia gained a seat bringing our total to 14. We stand to lose a seat for representation if our census count is low and not complete,” she said.
In a recent Census update email, Georgia Department of Community Affairs Deputy Commissioner Rusty Haygood said a hearing is set for Sept. 17 to extend the collection period, but as of now, all phases of the count are scheduled to conclude Sept. 30.
Haygood said so far 44 Georgia counties have met or exceeded their 2010 response rates, which is good, but that still leaves 115 that have not.
“Efforts need to continue in every corner of the state, regardless of whether your community has surpassed their 2010 response rate,” he said.
The deputy commissioner said the state’s self-response rate is currently 60.8 percent, leaving just over 39 percent requiring door-to-door contact. He said that equates to almost 20 percent of Georgia households needing to be counted in the time remaining.
The Census count is required by Article I, Section II of the Constitution of the United States and is confidential under the law. The first count took place 1790 and has happened every year that ends in a zero since that date.
The federal government distributes $675 billion in funds each year. Those funds are distributed using Census numbers. The 66 percent count in 2010 means the county missed out on 34 percent of its fair share of federal funds for the past 10 years.
Those funds are distributed to agencies to be used for services such as roads, 911 service, hospitals, child care, grant programs and schools.
Census numbers are also used for the forecasting of transportation needs, housing assistance and facilities for people with disabilities, the elderly and children.
Only one person per household needs to respond, but every person living in Jones County households as of April 1 needs to be included on the form.
In-person follow up visits are only made to non-responding households.
For more information about the Census go to 2020census.gov or call 1-844-330-2020.