Census 101: What You Need to Know

The U.S. Constitution mandates that everyone in the country be counted every 10 years. The first census was conducted in 1790 and one has been conducted every 10 years since then. The next census occurs in 2020 with April 1st being the official Census Day. The Census Bureau’s goal for Census 2020 is to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place. 

The census provides vital information for you and your community. 

  • It determines how many representatives each state gets in Congress and is used to redraw district boundaries. 
  • Communities rely on census statistics to plan for a variety of resident needs including new roads, schools, and emergency services. 
  • Businesses use census data to determine where to open places to shop and dine. 
  • Each year, the federal government distributes more than $675 billion in federal funds, grants, and support to states, counties, and communities based on Census Bureau data. 

Ultimately, the census means money, assistance, and representation for our community. According to the “Counting for Dollars 2020” study by the George Washington University, for each person counted in South Carolina, we receive about $1,500 in assistance each year. In Sumter County alone, a one percent undercount of the population would result in a loss of over $1.6 million in federal assistance each year. This assistance is provided through programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, Highway Planning and Construction, Low Income Home Energy Assistance, and Title 1 Grants to Local Education Agencies. 

Census 2020 will be easier than ever. For the first time, you will be able to respond online, by phone, or by mail. In mid-March 2020, most addresses in the U.S. will receive a postcard with instructions to participate online, but you will also have the option to respond via phone or mail. 

Finally, participating in the 2020 Census is a civic duty. It’s a way to participate in our democracy and say, “I Count!” and I care about my community. 

For more information about Census 2020, to include requesting speakers for organizational or association meetings, please visit www.sumtercensus.com.


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