Don’t leave money on the table. Six hundred seventy-five billion dollars of federal government funds are distributed to states and communities, based partially off census data.

Programs related to highway planning and construction, the environment in the form of state wildlife grants, public safety—such as grants benefiting firefighters, entrepreneurship in the form of funding for small business development, schools, hospitals, family services, and many more are all allocated funding partially by statistical data gathered every ten years through census responses.

Invitations to complete the census were mailed to residences throughout the United States beginning March 12, 2020. Paper questionnaires have been mailed and/or left inside doors of some local households by census workers. The census asks only ten questions, and replying takes approximately ten minutes to complete, responding via mail, the internet, or phone.

The U. S. Census Bureau has counted this country’s population every ten years since 1790. The objective is to count every person in the United States, regardless of citizenship, age, or other characteristics.

Roxanne Wallace, Assistant Regional Census Manager for this area said, “We want people to understand that completing the census is easy, safe, and secure. We also want people to understand the importance of answering the census questions, especially to government funding.”

The pandemic has caused some census operations to “pause,” said Wallace. Thus, the deadline for completing the count has moved from summer to October 31. Some census takers will be asked to go door-to-door to find non-respondents during a late stage of the process; they will be wearing protective items such as masks.

Wallace said, “It is easier than ever to complete the questions. There’s really no need to leave home or meet with anyone face to face.” Whether or not paperwork has been delivered, people can go online to to answer the census’s ten questions. For questions or concerns, phone the census help line at 844-330-2020.

As of May 18, 2020, responses from the counties of Campbell, Pittsylvania, and neighboring Bedford and Charlotte were slowly growing with a Virginia-wide average of 64.60% of invitations to respond to the census, up from a week before (on May 11) at 63.60% and from 61.2% on May 3. In 2010, the total state average for responses completed by that year’s deadline was 80%.

In addition to guiding allocations of government funds, census population results are also used to determine how many seats a state gets in Congress; this process takes place without factoring in which party gets seats.

The U.S. Census Bureau asks for the following information in its questionnaires: the number of people at an address; any additional people living or staying at the address; owner/renter; phone number; name, sex, age, and date of birth of each person at the address; Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin; race; whether or not a person lives or stays somewhere else; and the relationship of each person in the household. 

Wallace assured that the U.S. Census Bureau does not share statistics created by the census count in a way that reveals personal information, “not even to the police.” Census workers take a life-time oath to protect the data they see or help to collect.  Census information that could aid historical and/or genealogical research can only be released after 72 years.

or the full story, be sure to pick up a copy of next week's print edition of The Union Star. It is available on newsstands throughout the greater Brookneal area. Or call (434) 376-2795 to order a subscription to be delivered directly to your home or business.