School Lunch and Breakfast Program, Rural Education, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance, Community Development Block Grants, Federal Pell Grant Program, Title 1 and Head Start, Special Education Grants to States, Foster Care and Adoption Grants, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and WIC, Formula Grants for Rural Areas, Water and Waste Disposal Systems for Rural Communities, Highway Planning and Construction, Child Welfare Services State Grants, Child Abuse and Neglect State Grants, Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse, State Wildlife Grants, Hunter Education and Safety Program, and the list goes on. One hundred and thirty-two federal programs used Census Bureau statistical data to distribute more than $675 billion in funds during fiscal year 2015 alone.
Conducted every ten years, the Census provides valuable information that dictates how our state is represented in Congress and how much federal funding our local schools, public safety services, and public infrastructure receive. That’s why it is important that each Georgian be counted in the 2020 Census.
Currently, a little over 59% of Georgians have responded to the 2020 Census, with the national response rate at 63.6%. That means nearly 4.3 million Georgians have yet to be counted, which means Georgia will lose out on billions of dollars in federal funding over the next ten years.
This impact will be felt especially hard in rural communities, which are currently underreporting in Georgia. Georgia’s Eighth District, which is classified as 43% rural, is currently reporting a Census response rate at just over 54.6%. That means nearly 325,000 of our 710,000 residents are currently not being counted in the 2020 Census. If this low response rate holds, Middle and South Georgia will receive significantly less federal funding from programs that utilize Census Bureau statistical data to distribute funds.
Census data does more than direct federal funding, it also dictates how many U.S. Representatives our state sends to Congress and influences business development in communities based off the size and age of the local workforce. Plainly put: Census results are vitally important to our local communities.
One of the most common reactions I hear from constituents is fear. Please know that the information you provide to the Census will never be used against you. By law, responses to the Census are kept confidential, and your answers can only be used to produce statistics. Your response is safe, secure, and protected.
I strongly encourage each Georgian to complete the Census today – it only takes a few minutes. You can visit http://www.2020census.gov/ for more information or to take the Census online. To take the Census by phone, you can call 844-330-2020 for English and 844-468-2020 for Spanish.
If you are an employer, please share this with your employees; educators, please share with your parents; pastors, please share with your congregation. The deadline to take the Census is September 30, so don’t wait. Take a few minutes to shape the future of our communities and state today by taking the 2020 Census.
Congressman Austin Scott represents Georgia’s Eighth Congressional District.