Missouri is prepping for the 2020 census and working to make sure that everyone is counted.
The data that will be collected is used to provide an official count of the United States' population, but also ensures each state is fairly represented. Population helps determine the amount of federal money allocated to each state, as well as the number of congressional districts.
A decade ago, when the last census was taken, Missouri lost billions of dollars in federal funding and a U.S. congressional seat due to an apparent undercount. State demographer Matt Hesser said that shouldn’t be the case in 2020.
“You’re looking into a crystal ball trying to figure out what things are going to look like, but all the research that’s out there, all of the projections on how the seats will fall out, Missouri doesn’t fall into the group that’s likely to gain or lose a seat,” Hesser said.
Money from the federal government is a top priority. According to Hesser, it’s estimated that if just 1% of addresses are missed, Missouri loses out on $1.6 billion it should be getting from the federal government.
There are several categories of people considered “hard to count” for the U.S. census. These include persons experiencing homelessness, non-English speakers, children under 5, and people who don’t trust the government. In order to more accurately record these people, the government is using Complete Count Committees to help inform citizens about the importance of the census. Partnering with local governments and organizations, CCCs will attempt to reach more people through targeted outreach efforts in their communities.
The census collects basic information such as gender, age and race for members of the household. All of the information is confidential. For 2020’s census, there will be an online option available to most citizens. Information will be mailed to each address that is eligible to participate.