The 2020 Census: Why it counts to be counted

Blythe

Working to ensure that every person in Paducah/McCracken County is counted, West Kentucky Community and Technical College was recently named a Census Partner for the 2020 U.S. Census.

"We are very proud to be an official 2020 Census partner," said WKCTC President Anton Reece. "We know how important it is to achieve a complete and accurate count of our nation's growth population in 2020. By supporting the 2020 Census, we hope to raise awareness in our community of this important initiative but also increase the overall response rate of historically hard-to-count college students."

The U. S. Census Bureau is preparing to count everyone living in the nation. The goal is to have at least 80 percent of the population counted by the end of April 2020. Nationally, that is over 260 million counted, according to current population estimates. The census count helps determine everything from how many seats each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives, the number of state legislative districts needed, how much federal funding is allocated to states and localities, and which communities need new elementary schools, hospitals, or highways.

Mandated by the U.S Constitution, a complete census counts every 10 years every person, one time, and in the correct place in the nation. The 2020 Census' detailed demographic information can help Kentucky's colleges and universities decide what to expand and what new programs to develop.

WKCTC and the other 15 community colleges in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) have each appointed a 2020 Census liaison who will be encouraging the participation of students, faculty and staff in the upcoming U.S. Census.

As a Census partner, WKCTC has committed to helping increase public awareness of, and motivate people to respond to the 2020 U.S. Census. In McCracken County alone, officials hope to motivate 52,000 - 80 percent of McCracken County 's estimated 65,000 residents - to self-respond. As a large employee in McCracken County, WKCTC will be actively encouraging its employees and students to be counted in the census. "In addition to it being a civic duty, helping to make sure everyone is counted in the census ensures that we have the right numbers when creating growth projections that may guide state and federal spending in the future," Dr. Reece said.

Participating in the 2020 Census is an easy and important way to make a difference in our community. It is critical that everyone be counted to ensure their communities receive a fair share of resources, but many communities are in danger of being undercounted in the 2020 Census. According to the Census Bureau, populations with a high risk of being undercounted include young children, people of color, low-income households, foreign-born residents, and households with limited Internet access.

If you think you might skip completing the census, you might want to think again and remember these facts:

n Every 10 years, the results of the census are used to reapportion the U.S. House of Representatives, determining how many seats each state gets.

n After each decade's census, state officials redraw the boundaries of the congressional and state legislative districts in their states to account for population shifts.

n By law, responses to the census cannot be used against you.

n In fiscal year 2015, census data was used to guide the distribution or more than $674 billion dollars for 132 federal programs.

n Businesses use census data to determine recruitment efforts of college graduates, and to locate retail stores, new housing and other facilities.

n Decision-makers use census data to determine where to build new schools, new roads, child care and senior centers, community facilities and more.

When people hear about the census, they often picture people going door to door to get the census completed, but in fact less than 1% of households will be counted in person by a census taker. When it's time to respond, nearly every household will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census from either a postal worker or a census worker. For the first time, individuals will be able to complete the 2020 Census online. The traditional telephone and paper response options will also be available.

The first count of the 2020 Census officially begins January 21, 2020, in Toksook Bay, Alaska. In March 2020, the Census Bureau will mail invitations to respond to nearly every household in the country and activate the online response form. Responses to the 2020 Census are confidential and protected by law and can only be used to produce statistics. Completing the census is an important way to show you count.

Janett Blythe, an author and former Paducah Sun reporter, has been the director of marketing at West Kentucky Community and Technical College for 26 years.

KEY CENSUS MILESTONES

April 2019 - the 2020 Census web site goes live: 2020census.gov . This site is available in multiple languages and provides downloadable materials, answers to frequently asked questions and more information about how individuals and organizations can help spread the word about the 2020 Census. Interested applicants can visit the Web site to apply for a variety of jobs now through summer 2020.

March 2020 - The public can begin responding to the 2020 Census online at 2020census.gov . Replying by mail or phone will also be an option.

April 2020 - Census Day is observed on April 1, 2020.

June 2020 through July 2020 - Census takers go door to door to count people who have not responded to the 2020 Census. Census takers are Census Bureau employees and will provide proof that they are official government personnel.

December 2020 - By this date, as required by law, the Census Bureau reports to the President of the United States the population count and the apportionment of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives to each state.

2021 - initial 2020 Census data are made available to the public on census.gov.

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