MONTGOMERY, Ala.— Billions of federal dollars are spent based on Census figures. The money goes where the people are, so the stakes are high for communities across the U.S. that they get an accurate and complete population count.
But with a looming Census deadline, Alabama is struggling.
The state is last, 52nd including Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, on total enumerated Census rates, according to Census figures. That is, the count that includes people responding and Census takers finding them. Locally, Madison County is second in the state, but there’s work to do.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey sounded the alarm Tuesday.
“Without you, Alabama stands to lose billions in funding, a seat in Congress and economic development opportunities,” Ivey said.
James Vandiver with the City of Huntsville said Census data is used to allocate more than $675 billion in federal spending every year.
Claire Aiello, Vice President with the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce, encouraged area residents to participate.
“Census data and the funding that results from Census data supports our hospitals, supports our roads, supports our growth in many ways. It supports our schools,” Aiello said. “We’ve had a lot of growth here in Madison County, we’ve had a population boom. So, we want to make sure that as people come here and they move here, we want to make sure that we are able to improve services that they use every day.”
The local Census map shows solid returns, with Madison at over 80 percent and Huntsville at nearly 72 percent.
“Thanks to the efforts of those who have already responded, you’ve helped Madison County become number two in the greatest number of responses in the state of Alabama,” said Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong.
Shelby County leads the state in Census response at nearly 77 percent.
The chamber is urging employers to consider giving workers a few minutes to fill out the Census. Aiello points out filling out the Census form is a simple process.
“You can pull it up on your phone, you can pull it up on your desktop, my2020census.gov and it’ll take you six minutes,” she said. “You don’t have to have the mailer, you don’t have to have your census ID. Click that link right there that says if you don’t have a census ID click here. You don’t have to have the mailer to do this. The system will find your address and then you can move on from there.”
Around the state, people haven’t found that six minutes to fill out the Census. While Madison County is at 75 percent, Marshall and Lawrence counties are around 65 percent. Jefferson County is at 64 percent, Montgomery is at 62 percent and Mobile and Tuscaloosa are at 60 percent.
The deadline to complete the Census is September 30.