East Texas leaders emphasize importance of counting for 2020 census

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Updated: Feb. 15, 2020 at 12:07 PM CST
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - We’re just a little over a month away from 2020 census count. Now, officials are pushing for East Texans to put pen to paper.

Chante Truscott, Senior Partnership Specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau tells KLTV, ”It’s not enough to say the census is coming, they need to know those reasons behind why it’s important respond.”

She says getting an accurate count on the nine questionnaire that happens every 10 years, helps give an official count of our population.

For the first time, census surveys can be filled out online.

“We're counting everyone once and only once and in the right place. We're not just focused on large cities; we're not focused on large metroplex areas,” explains Truscott.

According to the United States Census Bureau, $675 billion annually is distributed by the federal government based on the population of each state.

“The importance of responding to this census is paramount because you don’t have another opportunity to respond for another 10 years,” says Truscott.

With millions of dollars on the line, Smith County Commissioner JoAnn Hampton says residents need to participate, because it helps determine how funds are distributed.

“It brings in grant funds for our school district, for our cities, for federal housing, so all of those things are very important, and it also helps us with getting additional representatives in congress,” explains Commissioner Hampton.

With the census fast approaching, Commissioner Hampton says is important to connect with the underserved communities.

“We want to make sure our underserved population which would be our African American population, Hispanic population, our school children, our seniors, so everyone is important when we come to talk about the complete count for the census 2020,” adds Hampton.

With only 79.7% of Smith County, 72% of Gregg County, 76.3% of Angelina County, and 72.5% of Nacogdoches County mailing back their 2010 census questionnaires, officials in the area say any population undercount can impact a community.

“It's difficult to provide services when you don't know where people are, or you don't know where they're located or what kind of services they need,” says Truscott.

The results can also have an impact from county to county.

“Down through the years then it becomes an impact you know 10 years later. How do you redraw your district lines as far as your city council seats or your commissioner seats. All of that will play a part in the census count,” explains Commissioner Hampton.

Right now, the U.S. census still needs about 500 part time workers in East Texas. Pay for those jobs starts at $15 an hour.

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