Leaders stress importance of 2020 US Census for Youngstown area

Local News

It’s not even something you can take part in yet, even if you wanted to. That isn’t stopping local leaders and others from getting the word out about the 2020 U.S. Census.

“Our goal is to count everyone once — and only once — and in the right place,” said Rachel D’Onofrio, with the U.S. Census Bureau.

April 1, 2020 marks the official kick-off of next year’s census, which has been done every decade since 1790.

Historically, the canvas is used to plot out congressional boundaries by population. Ohio now has 16 districts and Pennsylvania has 18.

“Our representatives are determined for the state based on our census numbers, so it’s very important if you want your voice to be heard here in Mahoning County to please respond,” D’Onofrio said.

Besides affecting legislative districts, population impacts the way local governments borrow money and the interest rates they’ll pay. It also affects the way federal dollars are doled out.

For every person who’s missed from one census to the next, roughly $1,800 in potential funding is lost.

To boost that response, the Census Bureau will be encouraging residents to file online for the very first time next year.

“We’re hoping that will capture more people. That they can easily respond but we also will still be able to respond via the old format with paper,” D’Onofrio said.

The census could also mean jobs — 300 to 400 people will be hired part-time locally to help reach out to neighbors who might not otherwise take part and be left out.

“It’s imperative that local residents sign up for those jobs so they can go and knock on those doors. They’re part of that community where people feel comfortable,” said Jonathon Huff, with the Complete Count Committee.

To that end, local leaders have formed this committee to help spread the word between now and April 1 of next year when the census gets underway.

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