FAIRMONT — The U.S. Census Bureau reported on Sept. 23 that 99.9 percent of West Virginia has been counted for the 2020 Census.
This rate of response tops every other state in the country, with runner-up Idaho reporting 99.8 percent of people accounted for.
The census count, which takes place in the U.S. every 10 years, gets information about the population of different states, and the population numbers in each state can impact federal programs and funding, as well as the number of federal representatives each state gets.
“The census is important to every community to have an accurate count of its citizens,” said Fairmont City Manager Valerie Means. “Many federal grants are reliant on the census tracks for funding.”
Marion County Administrator Kris Cinalli said West Virginia gets a lot of funding for programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Women, Infants and Children. These federal programs determine the amount of money each state gets in part based on the information gathered by the annual Census.
“The equitable distribution of funds to our state depends on the accurate count of our population and characteristics,” Cinalli said. “It’s definitely important for people to complete their census forms, especially in West Virginia since we receive so much funding from federal programs. Our state gets millions of dollars from federal programs that we rely on to help fund everything from WIC to SNAP to Medicaid.”
In Marion County, several organizations aided in gathering responses to the census, including the Marion County Family Resource Network and Rising Stars Inc. Means said the count can impact the amount of money a state gets to spend on improvements to local areas and infrastructure, which is why local nonprofits got involved in the count.
“It ensures that the community gets our fair share of federal funds that can be spent on schools, hospitals, state roads, for example,” Means said.
On a local level, Cinalli said the demographic data collected by the census can lead to economic change as well. In addition to the representation determined by the census data, the population percentage information may lead to new developments in business, nonprofits and other resources.
“The census assists in drawing federal, state and local legislative districts which impacts representation,” Cinalli said. “It’s also important in determining our demographics which are used to attract new businesses and address health services, transportation and housing needs.”
A Sept. 28 press release from the Census Bureau said “the Secretary of Commerce has announced a target date of October 5, 2020, to conclude 2020 Census self-response and field data collection operations.” A press release from Oct. 2 said data collection operations will continue until Oct. 31.
Email Eddie Trizzino at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @eddietimeswv.