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Census: Accurate data is vital to West Virginia’s future

West Virginia cannot afford an inaccurate assessment in the 2020 Census. According to the Associated Press, the Mountain State is more reliant on federal money than any other state. One study shows federal funding represents more than 16 percent of personal income here — in the form of Medicare, Medicaid and other such programs. Approximately $675 billion in federal taxpayer dollars make their way back to us each year.

That is just one of the reasons the feds need an accurate understanding of how many people are living in West Virginia, how many of us are below the poverty line and how many of us are living in rural areas.

But there are other significant reasons, too.

Census data is used in determining the number of our representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives; redistricting of state legislative districts; forecasting future transportation needs for all segments of the population; determining areas eligible for housing assistance and rehabilitation loans; assisting federal, state, and local governments in planning and implementing programs, services, and emergency response and designing facilities for people with disabilities, the elderly and children.

According to information provided by Wood County Court Coordinator Pam Brust, census information is also used for comprehensive planning, and can serve as an important tool for historians/genealogists.

Make sure you are counted, folks. Fill out the forms, answer the door if a census worker comes knocking. Census postcards should be arriving in most homes in March. Don’t go unnoticed.

An undercount could mean a loss of representation in Congress and influence in the Electoral College, a loss of federal funding … this is a big deal, particularly for states like West Virginia.

Make your presence known.

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