Person County preps for 2020 census

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In order to ensure an accurate count in the 2020 census, Person County has formed a Complete Count Committee and the Person County Board of Commissioners made $12,000 available for the committee at its meeting Monday morning.

“The goal is to count every person once, only once and in the right place,” said CCC co-chair Sallie Vaughn. “And we want to count those people where they are, in place, on April 1, 2020.”

For the first time ever, the population will be able to respond to the census online in 2020, Vaughn said.

Vaughn, who is the director of the county’s GIS department, explained that 95 percent of the county will receive their census invitations by mail, around 5 percent will receive their invitation when a census taker drops it off and less than 1 percent will be physically counted by a census taker.

Only 82 percent of the county responded to the census in 2010, according to Vaughn.

Under federal law, indentifiable information from the census will be kept confidential and no identifiable information about individuals, households or businesses will be released, not even to law enforcement, for 72 years until the records are made public by the National Archives and Records Administration. For example, 1950 census data will be released in 2022.

The population number determined by each decade’s census is important because it helps determine the amount of federal funding states receive.

According to Vaughn, North Carolina receives $1,623 per person per year based on data derived from the census.

A study from George Washington University found that $23.7 billion was allocated to North Carolina in the 2016-17 fiscal year based on data derived from the 2010 census. This number includes $8.5 billion for Medicare, $431 million for Title I grants for schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families and $230 million for the Head Start program.

Andrew Reamer, the study’s researcher, explained that businesses use census-derived data to make decisions about whether and how to invest in a community, including where to open stores and which kinds of goods and services to offer.

“The widespread use of data derived from the decennial census by businesses and nonprofit organizations, workers and students, and federal, state and local governments has a substantial positive effect on the vitality of the U.S. economy and the nation’s 6 million private firms,” Reamer testified to the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress in May.

The population data will also determine the state’s representation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Vaughn emphasized the need to reach young children 5 and under, Hispanic or Latinx individuals, Native Americans, Black or African Americans and renters, all of whom have high predicted mail non-response rates in Person County.

The Person County GIS Department has completed three projects to prepare for the census, including a boundary annexation survey to add city of Roxboro annexations, a local update of census addresses to add or correct 1,243 addresses and a participants statistical areas program to update selected statistical area boundaries.

The CCC sent about 18,000 inserts in county tax bills and approximately 4,800 inserts in the September City of Roxboro water bills.

“We also attended the Personality Festival with the U.S. Census and the Library Senior Day and has popped up at the Senior Center multiple times,” Vaughn said.

The CCC has also planned an additional water bill advertisement with the City of Roxboro, newspaper, radio, and channel 10 articles and advertisements, social media boosts, PATS vans advertisements, additional printed materials and events at the Person County Library, Senior Center and parks.

To accomplish these goals, Vaughn requested $12,000 from undesignated contingency funds and a resolution of support from the commissioners.

The requests were passed unopposed.

The U.S. Census Bureau is hiring census takers until mid-April.

Residents should expect a mailed invitation to respond to the census online in mid-March.

Census Day is April 1, 2020.

Census takers will begin visiting group housing in April 2020 and non-responsive homes between May and July 2020.

Draft population data will be available in April 2021.

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