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‘Why should I complete the Census?’

When I speak to various groups around the community, inevitably one of the questions I get is:

“Jill, how can we get Target to come to the Mid-Ohio Valley?”

Target’s decision to expand its store footprint is weighted heavily on demographics such as census numbers, income, home ownership, education rates, population density, etc.

And what’s one thing everyone can do to help provide this information to Target?

Complete the Census.

The Census is a once-every-10-years task, unlike doing your taxes (which is what I’ll be doing this weekend…)

The information gathered every decade is used for so many decisions, not just to retail site selectors, but also for decisions on schools, roads, and services. Census completion also determines the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives. Currently we have 3 from West Virginia in Congress (David McKinley for District 1, Alex Mooney for District 2, and Carol Miller for District 3.) But chances are we might lose a seat if we fail to get everyone in West Virginia counted.

More importantly, the Census results also guide how billions of dollars in federal funding are allocated to many programs that support our fellow West Virginians. Programs like Medicaid, Head Start, Veterans benefits, and SNAP, just to name a few. For each person/household that does not complete the census, we stand to lose $2,000 per person in federal funding which means less support for infrastructure, nonprofit organizations, and businesses. (See FAQs below for source.)

As a reminder, April 1 was the date that census information was mailed to each household. But April 1 was not the deadline to complete the Census — it’s a reference date. When you complete the census, you will use April 1 as the reference as to how many people lived in your home as of that date.

Here are the WV Census reporting rates as of July 6:

* West Virginia’s rate is 53.4 percent

* The National rate is 61.9 percent

* Congressional District 1 West Virginia 57.9 percent (this is our district)

* Congressional District 2 West Virginia 57.4 percent

* Congressional District 3 West Virginia 45.2 percent

So, will we get a Target if everyone completes the CENSUS 2020?

Here’s my new answer:

Let’s all do the Census so that whoever needs the updated demographics will have the information for whatever decision-making process needs to take place.

These are some FAQs taken from www.wv.gov/2020Census

WHAT IS THE CENSUS?

The census is a national headcount mandated by the U.S. Constitution. The survey is conducted by the nonpartisan U.S. Census Bureau. Taken once every 10 years, this population tally determines the number of congressional seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives. It also affects the amount of federal funding your community receives for education, transportation, employment and other vital services.

WHAT INFORMATION WILL BE REQUESTED?

The census will collect basic information about the people living in your household. Questions include how many people are staying at your home on April 1, 2020, their ages and genders, and whether you own or rent the home.

WHAT INFORMATION WILL NOT BE REQUESTED?

The Census Bureau will never ask for:

* Social Security numbers.

* Bank or credit card account numbers.

* Money or donations.

* Anything on behalf of a political party.

WHEN WILL I COMPLETE THE CENSUS?

By April 1, 2020, every home would have received an invitation to participate. You can respond by phone, mail, or for the very first time, online. In May, the U.S. Census Bureau will begin visiting in person the households that haven’t responded to the census. It’s important to ensure an accurate count because by December 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau must deliver the apportionment counts to Congress.

HOW CAN I BE SURE THE PERSON AT MY DOOR IS REALLY WITH THE CENSUS?

The Census taker will have a valid identification badge with his or her photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date. If you are still uncertain, call 800-923-8282 to speak to a local Census Bureau representative.

WHAT DOES THE GOVERNMENT WANT WITH MY INFORMATION?

The U.S. census is required by the Constitution to keep a count on the number of Americans that there are and to see general information. Your personal information will never be discussed or disclosed and is protected by federal law and sworn oath. The information you give cannot and will not affect you legally, including if you are an undocumented immigrant working here. You will not lose any rights by completing the census. This is only to help distribute federal funding and keep a correct and complete count.

WHO IS REQUIRED TO RESPOND?

Anyone living in the 50 states, the District of Columbia or U.S. territories is required to be counted in the census.

WHY IS THE US CENSUS IMPORTANT FOR WEST VIRGINIAN’S?

We could lose representatives in Washington, which means West Virginia doesn’t get as much funding or representation for our home state. We lose federal funding (about $2,000 per person/household that does not complete the census) which means less support for infrastructure, nonprofit organizations, and businesses.

For more information about the U.S. 2020 census or to complete the census on-line, visit www.2020census.gov or call 844-330-2020.

***

Jill Parsons is the president/CEO of The Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley.

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