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Census participation is not simply about you

By Gov. Kay Ivey

Guest Columnist

Census 2020 kicked off in March, shortly before the word “coronavirus” entered our everyday vocabulary and upended life as we then knew it. While the census is not presently on the forefront of the vast majority’s minds, it is enormously important to Alabama’s future.

Alabama is currently reporting a 56.7 percent self-response rate, trending behind the current national 58.6 percent average — and well below the 72 percent total response rate in the 2010 Census.

In Franklin County, the current response rate is 56.0 percent— showing there is a long way to go before we can count our participation efforts successful.

Some of you might say, “So what?” Some of you might say, “I don’t want to participate or allow the government to have my information.” Some of you might say, “It won’t matter if I participate anyway — what’s in it for me in the first place?”

Well, Census 2020 is not simply about you. Rather, it’s about your community and your family.

When you think about your life and the things you enjoy, but might take for granted, you should know many of those are impacted by the census.

Safe roads and bridges? Census. Good schools to educate our children? Census. Quality healthcare? Census. Job opportunities? Census.

How so? Alabama must exceed its 2010 Census count to keep its current number of federal representatives — representatives who fight for our state to be considered in times such as the current pandemic. Alabama must exceed its 2010 Census count to ensure we provided the more than $13 billion in census-derived funding at stake that goes to our communities and to you. Alabama must exceed its 2010 Census count to be considered for new and expanding economic development opportunities — which will translate to future job opportunities for many of us.

Folks, we have to take action and participate; Alabama loses if we don’t. If we fall short, we will be left behind.

Participation will determine whether life is tougher or easier for you, your children and your grandchildren over the next decade. If you cannot take the six minutes needed to fill out the form, it will ultimately mean a tougher future for all of us.

How badly are people in your county and your city — particularly small business owners — suffering at present?

Reduced congressional representation means less voices advocating for the needs of our small businesses during national emergencies. Low participation can inaccurately skew a community’s demographic data leading to reduced business opportunities.

Bottom line: take the Census. Take the time to respond, and know your information is protected by strict federal law. Whether online, via paper or over the phone, Alabamians can rest assured their information is safe, secure and protected.

If you won’t do it for you, do it for your family. Do it for already-hurting businesses and individuals in your community. Do it so that, even during trying times such as this, our future can be bright for us and for those we love.

Remember, the 2020 Census is not simply about you.