2020 Census will determine W.Va.’s number of seats in U.S. House of Representatives, funding for federal programs and more

BUCKHANNON – The 2020 Census is in full swing, and local and state lawmakers are emphasizing that it’s important for everyone to respond.

According to the official 2020 Census website, letters were sent to homes between March 12 – March 20 that explained how to respond to the census via mail, phone or online.

Mandated by the U.S. Constitution and undertaken by the nonpartisan U.S. Census Bureau, the census counts the population in the U.S. and five U.S. territories – Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The census is important because it provides “critical data” to a variety of fields that shape daily life in the U.S., including legislators, businesses, teachers, public health providers and many more.

“Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads and other resources based on census data,” the U.S. Census Bureau website says. Moreover, the Census results determine the number of seats each state in the U.S. has in the House of Representatives and the boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts.

In his daily COVID-19 briefings, Governor Jim Justice has also taken advantage of the platform to urge West Virginia residents to respond to the Census. At almost every press conference, Justice reminds West Virginians to complete the Census.

“Be counted, for crying out loud,” Justice said in a recent briefing. “If you aren’t counted, you could be leaving millions upon tens of millions of dollars in federal monies on the table for our state.”

Locally, Upshur County Commissioner Kristie Tenney expressed how important it is for West Virginians to respond to the Census.

“The Census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution,” Tenney said. “One reason it is imperative to fill out your Census this year is because it will determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives. For the next ten years, this data currently being collected will provide information that will be used for federal funding.”

During the March 12 Upshur County Commission, meeting partnership specialist for the U.S. Census Bureau Carol Cain Bush said the Census determines the funding for a lot of key programs in West Virginia.

“It is vital that all households in Upshur County, West Virginia complete and submit the Census form and every resident of Upshur County deserves to be counted … and the Census will determine how the federal government distributes hundreds of billions of dollars allocated to more than 100 programs including Medicaid, Headstart, block grants for community mental health services, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program as well as other needs of services in West Virginia,” Bush said.

According to the Census page on WV.gov, households that have not responded to the Census can expect an in-person visit from the Census Bureau between May 27 – Aug. 14, 2020. In December 2020, the Census Bureau hands over apportionment counts to the president and Congress, as is required by law.

“When those folks are in the area, they’ll have a shirt that identifies them as Census worker, they’ll have an ID badge, and they won’t have the big clipboards; they’ll have some kind of mini-iPad or iPhone where they can fill things out, which should be more efficient than having all this paper,” Bush said.

According to the Census page on WV.gov, people can expect the Census to ask basic information about each household, including how many people stay in the household as of April 1, their ages, genders and whether they rent or own the home. The Census 2020 website offers guides how to respond to the Census here; those ways include online, by telephone or via mail.

To read more about the Census or learn the answers to frequently asked questions, click here.

News Feed

Subscribe to remove popups, or just enjoy this free story and support our local businesses!