Special to Iredell Free News
RALEIGH — With less than two weeks left until the Census deadline of September 30, there are still nearly 4 million North Carolinians who have yet to self-respond, putting at risk more than $70 billion in funding over the next decade for communities across the state. This uncounted population represents nearly 40 percent of North Carolina households.
“The 2020 Census is North Carolina’s opportunity to bring back federal tax dollars to communities for critical infrastructure, planning and services,” said N.C. Department of Administration Secretary and N.C. Complete Count Commission Chair Machelle Sanders. “Undercounting North Carolina’s residents represents real dollars lost, real community programs underfunded, and real people whose needs are going underserved or unserved.”
Completing the census is safe, easy, and important. It is crucial for all North Carolinians to be counted. All people living in North Carolina should participate to ensure a complete and accurate census count – regardless of race, age, sex, family, or citizenship status – everyone should have an equal voice to accurately reflect North Carolina’s diverse population.
Census-driven funding will inform and support the following for the next 10 years:
♦ Healthcare, hospitals, Medicare Part B;
♦ Education grants, school lunch programs, and new schools;
♦ Transportation, roads, and highways;
♦ Economic planning and development;
♦ Disaster recovery initiatives;
♦ Community services and programs;
♦ And much more
Many of North Carolina’s undercounted populations live in rural areas; towns where military families reside; eastern counties impacted by storms; communities with limited access to healthcare; where our elderly rely on services; and where many minority populations call home. These uncounted residents and communities are often the most in need and could benefit from census funding, especially to help mitigate the economic impacts of COVID-19.
Additionally, North Carolina stands to gain a 14th seat in congress. Undercounting North Carolina’s residents puts both community funding and congressional representation in jeopardy.
North Carolina is presently the ninth largest state in the nation and the fourth fastest-growing state in the U.S. Having accurate census data is an essential piece to help continue building North Carolina’s future.
The U.S. Census Bureau has now added a “total response rate” to its reporting, which not only includes self-responses (direct responses conducted online, by phone or mail) and door-to-door follow-up responses, but also includes any vacant or seasonal homes, and households with no response at the door during census worker visits.
While North Carolina’s self-response rate currently stands at 62 percent, the U.S. Census Bureau reports the state’s “total response rate” at 88.5 percent, ranking North Carolina 44th in the nation.
The 88.5 percent total response rate, however, may distort the actual response rate and does not provide a full picture of dollars we can bring back to North Carolina or how reapportionment could look.
Based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s parameters for “total response rate,” the actual count of North Carolinians falls somewhere between the reported self-response rate of 62 percent and total response rate of 88.5 percent. The remaining, uncounted North Carolinians represent our hardest to count, hardest to reach, and highest need populations in many cases.
As the deadline looms, these households may not receive multiple door-to-door attempts by census workers, which means that self-response to the census questionnaire will provide the most reliable method for ensuring a complete count and accurate data for reapportionment.
“Self-response is still the most accurate and safest way for North Carolinians to be counted,” said N.C. Census Liaison Bob Coats. “The census questionnaire is quick, private and can be completed safely at home online by visiting 2020census.gov, by phone (844-330-2020 in English, 844-468-2020 in Spanish), or by paper form. It takes less than 10 minutes to complete and these 10 minutes can help shape our state’s future for the next 10 years.”