As September turns to October, the leaves begin to fall, and the marsh turns to an increasingly golden yellow, we find ourselves in one of the more contentious election cycles in recent memory. Politics aside, it is imperative we all fill out the census.
Why is this so important?
The census helps the federal government with redistricting and representation, it provides critical data for lawmakers, business owners, scholars, and others; and perhaps most importantly, the census determines the amount of money allocated by the federal — and to a lesser extent — state government to each county across the country.
In Northampton County, by most measures among the poorest in the state, each person counted results in nearly $2,000 in funding per year — roughly $20K per person until the next census—through government programs, subsidies, and other means flowing from the federal and state to the local level.
Despite the obvious importance, Northampton County has only a 42% self-response rate as of September 18. That means more than 6,800 people have not yet responded. Accomack County is slightly lower at 37%, with roughly 20,000 people not yet counted. By comparison, Virginia Beach has a response rate of more than 70%. This is not new money; these funds will be allocated to our community or others based on population counts. By failing to fill out the census, Northampton County residents could be forgoing more than $13.6 million and Accomack residents more than $40 million per year in federal programs and subsidies. If the numbers hold, this could amount to over $130 million in Northampton County and $400 million in Accomack County in unrealized community funding over the decade long census count.
If you have not yet completed the census, it can be done online. Please take five minutes to help yourself and your community.
Martin K. Mayer II,