What to know about the Census in Raleigh + Wake County

The 2020 Census might not be at the top of your list of community-shaping efforts for the future of Raleigh — but it should be.

Here is what you’ll want to know about getting an accurate 2020 Census count, and how it matters to our future in Raleigh and Wake County:

It shapes local planning

This data will be used to properly count what Raleigh looks like on April 1, 2020, for the next 10 years. 

“The Census is also our gold standard of data. It’s the backbone of almost every other federal statistical product and state and academic surveys,” said Dr. Rebecca Tippett, chair of the N.C. Counts Coalition and founding Director of Carolina Demography at the Carolina Population Center at UNC-Chapel Hill, in an interview in mid-2019. 

“Without high quality, accurate Census, we would really be undermining our ability to generate knowledge about who were are and how we’re doing for the next decade.”

Everyone is counted, regardless of citizenship or age

“It’s a count of all people living in the United States regardless of citizenship or legal status. It’s a 100% count or enumeration of the population. That’s been the case for over 200 years,” Dr. Tippett said.

There will not be a citizenship question on the 2020 Census form, and your response can’t be used against you or shared with other agencies.

According to the Census Bureau: 

“By law, your census responses cannot be used against you by any government agency or court in any way—not by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), not by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), not by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and not by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The law requires the Census Bureau to keep your information confidential and use your responses only to produce statistics.”

It shapes representation

This information shapes redistricting at the local and state level, but also means more national representation for our growing state. 

If North Carolina gets an accurate count, our state is expected to gain an additional seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and an additional seat in Congress, according to the N.C. Counts Coalition

It shapes funding

The N.C. Counts Coalition says our state “receives North Carolina about $16 billion annually in federal funding from Census guided federal programs…

“A single missed person is almost equivalent to a forfeited $16,000 in funding for North Carolina over a 10 year period.”

A breakdown of funding for N.C. in the past from Census-directed funding shows:

  • $10.6+ billion for health programs
  • $3.2+ billion for human services
  • $964 million for transportation
  • $956 million for education
  • $508 million for housing. 

Common misconceptions: Some things you might not know

  • Children, even babies born April 1, should be counted. [read more]
  • Less than 1% of people are counted by a Census taker, so it’s your responsibility to respond. [read more]

How it works

This will be the first year that online forms are available for a Decennial Census.

All residents will have an opportunity to respond online, print or phone, and self response begins on March 23

You can see a sample 2020 Census form here, from the League of Women Voters. 

Get involved/Learn more

The League of Women Voters of Wake County is holding several events (all genders welcome).

  • Office Hours to ask questions: 12-1 p.m. today (Tuesday) and Jan. 28 at the Duraleigh Community Library.
  • Learn how to get involved with Census outreach or to volunteer: 
    • Today (Tuesday), 5-6 p.m. at Vita Vite Midtown
    • Monday, 5:30-7 p.m. at Firebirds Grill 

Wake County’s 2020 Census page has additional info.

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