It’s Census Time

OpEd by Marnie Taylor, President and CEO

We are just nine months away from the next major census count in the United States. Performed every 10 years, our Census not only counts our population in our country, it helps determine state populations that inform Congressional representation and federal funding that comes to Oklahoma.

And while the 2020 Census seems a long way off, we must be working double-time to prepare for the count. The allocations from the Federal side account for about $1,800 per person in Oklahoma. An undercount of just one percent of our population, or about 39,000 people, could result in a loss of $70 million annually to the state. Additionally, Oklahoma’s federal delegation count – currently five representatives – could be adversely affected by an undercount (or possibly positively affected depending on the count).

Nonprofits are in a unique position to help with the upcoming Census that begins next April 1. There are a number of “hard-to-count” populations in Oklahoma. These include transient families or individuals that don’t have a stable place to live, a number of minority groups, people living in poverty, multi-family households, the elderly and others distrustful of a count.

Moreover, our rural areas which tend to be harder-to-count than our urban areas have some of the highest levels of population growth in the state. It will be incumbent upon nonprofit organizations to educate people they serve and their communities about the importance of a strong count.

Unfortunately, our state has not appropriated any money to help with the Census at this time. Other states – particularly Michigan – are investing millions of dollars into ensuring an accurate Census. The overall level of federal allocations of money to states will not change, but states that have lower counts could feel a significant pinch should they be undercounted.

I encourage everyone to visit the 2020 Census website www.census.gov. There you will find more comprehensive information about the Census along with resources and materials to help you get the word out to constituents about the importance of this work.

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