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You count, so be counted

Oped by Commissioner Cook

  • 20 February 2020
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 2744

Our committee’s focus is to raise awareness of the urgency of comprehensive census information and encourage people to complete it, particularly residents in hard-to-count areas.

Census data will determine how more than $675 billion in federal funds will be spent to support vital community programs nationwide.

The 2010 Census revealed Texas added 4.3 million known new residents since 2000, increasing our population to 25.1 million.

Texas’ population is second only to California. However, demographers believe we could become the most populous by 2045 if California’s growth continues to lag behind Texas.

After the 2010 Census, we gained four congressional seats, and experts believe we could gain up to three more seats this time, increasing our representation.

Our county population for 2020 is estimated to be over 600,000, and if everyone is not counted, we could lose both representation in Congress and much needed federal funding.

The census count impacts the redrawing of not just congressional district lines, but also state senatorial and legislative districts, county electoral and voting precincts, and some city council member districts. It also determines how many electoral votes we will have in presidential elections.

It also determines how much of the federal tax dollars will flow back to our state and communities that help fund schools, the construction of highways, bridges and airports, and much more.

If Texans are undercounted, both state and local governments risk cuts to much needed services that many of our communities rely on.

Groups historically undercounted include children, renters, ethnic minorities, rural residents and people with limited-English skills.

Today, 25% of Texans (over 6 million people) live in hard-to-count neighborhoods.

Completing the census also helps build our economy. Companies use population and demographic data to set up, expand and create jobs. Without accurate data, businesses can’t make the best decisions for growth, and this stifles our economy.

Real estate developers use census data to determine where to build new homes and revitalize old neighborhoods.

Even an undercount of one percent can result in significant loss in federal funding—at least $300 million per year over the next decade.

Filling out the Census form is safe. By law, the federal government protects our responses which are used solely to produce statistics.

Your information cannot be shared with immigration enforcement agencies, law enforcement agencies or to determine your eligibility for government benefits. There is no citizenship question on the Census.

When completing the census, you must include everyone living with you, even if not related, including anyone living with you temporarily.

In December, our WilCo Census Committee and the Williamson County and Cities Health District received a $30,000 grant from the United Way of Greater Austin. We will be using those funds to reach hard-to-count populations and encourage them to complete the census.

In December 2019, representatives from Williamson County and the Williamson County and Cities Health District accepted a grant for $30,000 from the United Way of Greater Austin on behalf of the Williamson County Census Complete Count Committee to help reach hard-to-count populations.

The Census Bureau increased its national recruiting efforts to hire up to 500,000 temporary, part-time census takers in communities across the country. To learn more about or apply for a temporary census taker job, visit http://2020census.gov/jobs or text Texasjobs to 313131.

We’ve come a long way from the first U.S. Census held in 1790, when 350 marshals counted 3,929,214 residents in the 13 states and territories.

Make sure you’re counted!

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