Billions of dollars in government funding, paid lunches for schoolchildren, newly paved and repaired county roads, supplemental Medicare & Medicaid, and up to 2 congressional seats.
These are just a few of the things Wilcox County stands to lose if our citizens do not participate in the 2020 Census.
As of today, only 31.5 percent of Wilcox citizens have filled out their forms, either by mail or through their easy-to-use website. The questionnaire only asks 10 questions. It’s a process that takes no longer than 6 minutes to complete, and doesn’t cost anyone a dime, or even a stamp.
Still, Wilcox’s numbers are” lagging significantly behind,” in what Kenneth Boswell is calling the most important census he’s ever participated in. Boswell is the Chairman of the Alabama Counts Committee, and after several years of experience working with population logistics and censuses, he’s now making an admittedly desperate push to ensure Alabama is counted in 2020.
Even after the encouraged deadline, which was April 30th, the date when most other parts of the country recorded complete participation from their people, Boswell is calling this promotion a “last chance” approach to make sure Alabama gets more than $13 billion dollars we all stand to lose.
And at the rate we’re going, we will lose it, due to an unprecedented lack of participation in Alabama, because of places like Wilcox County.
“This is a historic Census in that it is the first time that it has been available online,” Boswell says, “The online form is very easy to use and doesn’t take a lot of time to complete… for most households, all it’s asking for are basic demographics of the people living there; such as how many live there, their age, sex, and race, date of birth, etc.”
Participants’ information is protected strictly by federal law–regardless of how an individual responds, but it’s extremely important for Alabama’s economic development. Businesses use population statistics to help decide where to add jobs or open new stores, offices or other businesses..
“Alabama has seen amazing success in recent years, attracting new investment and creating jobs,” Boswell says, “and Census participation is key to maintaining that progress.” The Census is also used for determining how much government assistance we could receive. Each person counted equates to thousands of dollars that can be granted to Wilcox County. The money would go towards healthcare, roads and bridges, schools, infrastructure, and community services.
Census data is used to classify states, metros, counties, and cities as eligible or ineligible for certain pools of money, to set poverty rates, and other measures. Population data classifies an area as urban or rural, and this designation qualifies or disqualifies the area for certain grants, loans, or other programs–these are programs that Wilcox County already relies on year after year. An accurate count is of paramount importance to continue receiving care for those most at need in our area.
But what Wilcox County stands to lose, is what Chairman Boswell really wants to emphasize. “The road tax, the money that’s meant to help repair all those bad County Roads we’re all up in arms about is tied directly to the Census count information,” Boswell says, “If people choose not to participate in this census, they can only blame one person for the shape of their roads–themselves.”
Our Federal representation could be under suited as well. “The number of representatives for each state in Congress is determined by Census participation. Alabama must achieve high participation to ensure we continue our current number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.”
In 2010, Wilcox County participated at a self-response rate of 72 percent. Even if we perform equal to this in the 2020 Census, Boswell says our congressional district is “guaranteed to lose a congressional seat.” If we perform less than 72 %, we could lose two seats. “It all comes down to this,” Boswell poses with a warning, “which representative is Wilcox County prepared to lose?”
More information on Census 2020–including local community resources and contacts–can be accessed at census.Alabama.gov. Citizens can participate in our most important Census to date by visiting Alabama2020census.com, or by filling out the form sent to your mailbox.