Franklin County officials are joining local leaders from across the state to urge anyone who has yet to complete the U.S. Census to do so. The deadline to be counted in the Census is Sept. 30.
By Beau Evans
Capitol Beat News Service
and Shane Scoggins
CARNESVILLE – Franklin County officials are joining local leaders from across the state to urge anyone who has yet to complete the U.S. Census to do so.
The deadline to be counted in the Census is Sept. 30.
Georgia ranks near the bottom of states in its progress on the decennial count, which influences federal money allocations and political representation.
As of Monday, nearly 91 percent of households in Georgia had completed the Census either on their own initiative or after census takers tracked them down via door-to-door visits or phone calls.
That’s an increase from the 81 percent completion rate seen earlier this month but still lags behind every other state in the country except Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Montana.
Without a serious push to count more people, many cities and counties in Georgia could find themselves left with fewer dollars to provide services for more people – and will be stuck with that problem for another 10 years.
“We are currently at a 54.9 percent response rate,” a post on the Franklin County Georgia Government Facebook page reads. “Over the last month, we have steadily increased our response rate. The bad news is that we are still well below the national and state average. Let’s get out there and change that!
Franklin County Commission Chairman Thomas Bridges said at a recent commissioners’ meeting that each person counted will mean $2,300 in federal funding each year for the next 10 years.
“This funding helps our roads, schools, parks, libraries, healthcare, and more,” the county’s Facebook page said.
The census count affects the state’s share of a huge pot of federal dollars provided annually for a wide range of programs like Medicaid and Medicare, food stamps, housing vouchers, highway construction, child-care services, special education and more.
Roughly $1.5 trillion will be available for states to tap into depending on the size of their Census-determined populations, according to research from Georgia Washington University. The larger the population, the larger the share.
The Census also plays a major political role in influencing how state lawmakers may redraw legislative and congressional district boundaries during negotiations next summer.
The high-stakes logistics of counting hundreds of millions of people across vastly different communities was daunting from the start.
But the COVID-19 pandemic threw a major wrench into the equation, causing on-the-ground census takers to delay operations into summer and face reluctance from uncounted people to open their doors during follow-up visits.
Larry Hanson, executive director of the Georgia Municipal Association, pointed out companies often look at Census figures to see if a community is thriving when deciding whether to set up shop in a given area.
A Census undercount could hurt a community’s economic development prospects for the next decade, he said.
“You may lose an opportunity to have a prospect that you never even realized,” Hanson said. “That they never even called on you, never even visited your community, because of information that may in fact be inaccurate.”
Those who have not responded to the Census or been contacted by a Census counter should visit my2020census.gov or call 1-844-330-2020.