In just a few weeks, the Census Bureau will start the 2020 Census count in West Virginia and states around the country and your response is one of the most important things you can do as a citizen of the United States.
The census is a constitutionally mandated once-a-decade counting of everyone living in America and requires each household to answer a few questions. Information collected during the census is then used to direct federal funding and policymaking for the next 10 years.
Every person counts and how you respond is important. Here’s four reasons why.
West Virginia’s representation in the nation’s capital
State population counts determine how the 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives are proportionally shared among the 50 states. West Virginia currently has three but is at risk of losing one due to population decline. An incomplete count could seal the deal.
That might not seem like a big deal, but a loss of one seat in congress reduces West Virginia’s political influence at the national level and the state’s number of Electoral College votes in presidential elections. That’s why an accurate count on the 2020 census is so important.
Federal funding for your community
Real people mean real money for improving West Virginia. Census Bureau data is used to direct more than $600 billion in federal funding to states each year and West Virginia receives millions for important community programs and nonprofits.
You might not think one person not getting counted will make much of a difference, but each missed person results in a loss of $2,000 in federal funding each year. Imagine if 100 people in your area doesn’t get counted. Over 10 years, that’s a loss of $2 million.
Census counts ensure federal funding is equitably distributed. That’s why an accurate count on the 2020 census is so important.
Roads, healthcare and education
Federal funding for West Virginia is also used to pave roads, feed schoolchildren and provide healthcare to veterans and senior citizens. An inaccurate count would be devastating for West Virginia, which manages 97 percent of roads in the state and has a large population of kids enrolled in school lunch programs and people on Medicaid and Medicare. Maybe you don’t rely on these programs, but there’s a good chance you know someone who does. That’s why an accurate count on the 2020 census is so important.
Job growth in West Virginia
Governments isn’t the only entity that relies on census data. Businesses look at population changes to determine markets and make decisions about where to invest. West Virginia has experienced positive job growth over the last few years, thanks to several businesses expanding and relocating to the Mountain State. But an inaccurate count on the census could hurt West Virginia’s prospects in attracting new businesses.
Small businesses make up 98 percent of West Virginia’s businesses and use census data too. The opening of local restaurants and shops are vital to a community’s growth, culturally and economically. That’s why an accurate count on the 2020 census is so important.
Respond to the Census
Congressional representation. Federal funding for school lunches and highway funding. Support for veterans and families in need. How you respond to the census impacts your community every day. West Virginia’s future counts on you.
So be counted.