By Sarah Richardson
Every 10 years, the United States Census Bureau makes it a goal to count every single person in the United States, a lofty goal that requires every household to do their part in being counted. In 2010, the census reported that 74 percent of all households responded, but that still leaves 26 percent of people not included in the total.
Why does this matter? According to our local census Partnership Specialist Debbie Sizemore, “Population affects everything including roads, bridges, infrastructure projects, schools, hospitals, federally-qualified health centers, disaster assistance, Headstart, Children’s Health Insurance Program, Section 8 housing, SNAP benefits, senior citizens programming, foster care funds, WIC, technology services, low-income energy assistance, and so much more.”
She emphasizes that the census is easy, safe, and important. You can respond by phone, online, or on the form. The questionnaire is short and has fewer than 10 questions and requires less than 10 minutes to complete. Answers are held confidential for 72 years and responses aren’t shared with anyone for any reason.
“This confidentiality extends to every person, group, and agency and includes DHHR, Section 8, Immigration & Customs, law enforcement, or anyone else,” she said. “The results of the 1950 census haven’t been released yet so when we say your information is confidential, it is.”
She added that population numbers determine how many representatives we get in Congress and the US House of Representatives, and also how the district lines are drawn for the WV Legislature.
Most importantly, population numbers also determine how funds are distributed around the state, and areas lose money for each person not counted for 10 years.
Lewisburg is leading the region for census response with a total of 61 percent of households responding. Alderson so far reports 19.8 percent, Falling Springs reports 23 percent, Ronceverte reports 54.4 percent, and White Sulphur reports 46.9 percent. The Greenbrier County response rate is 37 percent, the West Virginia response rate as of this week is 43.9 percent, and the National response rate if 56.3 percent.
If your household hasn’t yet responded to the census, it’s easy to do so online at www.census.gov or by calling 1-844-330-2020.