Federal Funding for Phelps County Depends on Everyone Responding to the 2020 Census: Deadline is Soon

Federal Funding for Phelps County Depends on Everyone Responding to the 2020 Census: Deadline is Soon Main Photo

1 Sep 2020

Time is running out to get census responses in before the September 30, 2020 deadline. It is vitally important for each household to be counted because every response determines how much of the $675 billion per year federal funding Phelps County receives. For each resident not counted, the community stands to lose $3,000 per year. If Phelps County is undercounted by 1,000 people, the community stands to be shorted $3 million every year. 

The chance to be counted only comes around every 10 years as mandated by the Constitution. If households are undercounted, then the community will be underfunded for the next decade.  These funds — spent on schools, hospitals, roads, public works, emergency services, and other essential programs — are crucial for the success and health of the residents of Phelps County.

“Total population and trends of growth or decline can be impactful in so many different ways, so the U.S. Census is critical to Phelps County’s future prosperity,” said Ron Tillery, executive director, Phelps County Development Corporation (PCDC).

In addition to determining the allocation of billions of federal funds, results from the census also determine congressional representation and the boundaries of legislative districts. Businesses use census data to pinpoint the very best locations where they can thrive. Developers use the data to hone plans to revitalize areas of the county.

“PCDC will be very interested to see the changing demography of our region,” said Tillery. “Despite tremendous headwinds, many rural areas are experiencing growth and there are new opportunities on the horizon for forward thinking communities. PCDC’s efforts have been focused on stabilizing, then reversing a decades old trend of population decline. We’re hopeful this census will include positive results for Phelps County.”

The census questions are few in number and do not take much time to answer — information about the gender, age, and race of each person living at an address is requested. There are no questions about citizenship. The U.S. Census Bureau is not a reporting agency — no information is shared with law enforcement or landlords. Information is only compiled and used for statistics and data gathering. Learn more about census questions and why the census asks them at 2020census.gov/en/about-questions.html.

Usually the census relies heavily on in-person house visits by census takers to collect data, but COVID-19 halted those efforts until very recently. Door-to-door campaigns have resumed to collect information from households who haven’t answered online, by mail or by telephone. It’s not too late to self-respond. In fact, if a household responds online at my2020Census.gov or via phone at (844-330-2020) today, a census taker is less likely to have to visit to collect data.

But rest assured, if a census taker does visit your home, they will wear masks and follow local public health guidelines. All census takers have completed a virtual COVID-19 training on social distancing and other health and safety protocols before beginning their work in your neighborhood. They will each have an ID badge with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. Census workers may also carry Census Bureau bags and other equipment with the Census Bureau logo.

The U.S. Census Bureau is doing its best to ensure that the census continues while also protecting the health of its employees and fellow Americans. Now the residents of Phelps County need to do their part to get the funding the community deserves and needs by taking the easy steps required to complete their surveys today.

As of the end of August, the self-response rate was 70.1 percent for Nebraska, while Phelps County’s was 69 percent. 

In a community the size of Phelps, it is vital that every resident is tallied. Let’s strive for 100 percent response! The Census Bureau has an interactive map where you can keep track of how the responses from Phelps County, and even your town, are adding up. While you keep tabs on local response rates, check out the tools here you can use to encourage your neighbors to respond.

The 2020 Census is more than a population count, it’s an opportunity to shape Phelps County's future!

What to do:

  • Complete your census! Either online, by phone (844-330-2020), or by mailing in your completed census questionnaire that was mailed to your address in March. 
  • Cooperate with the door-to-door campaign. Look for the census ID badge and remember, a census taker will never ask about your citizenship, your Social Security number, your bank account or credit card numbers, or request money or donations.
  • Check out the social media tools the Census Bureau has for you to encourage your neighbors to respond at 2020census.gov/en/how-to-help.html.