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What to know about the Census in Raleigh + Wake County

IMPORTANT NOTE: Raleigh Convergence is no longer publishing, as of April 1, 2022. Read more.

Updated April 1, 2020:

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.

Census Day is April 1, and your response makes a difference for our community’s future.

As of March 30, 39.5% of Wake County residents have responded.

The North Carolina average response is 33%, which ranks us 39th of the 50 states, according to Carolina Demography. [read more]

North Carolina’s response by this time in past decades (1990, 2000, 2010) hovered between 63-64.8%, Carolina Demography reports.

While Census Day is the day for the official count of people in your housing unit, you have until Aug. 14 — an extended date — to participate in this Constitutionally-mandated count.

FILL IT OUT NOW: 2020 Census

Here’s why, even during a pandemic, getting an accurate 2020 Census matters:

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 by law your response can’t be used against you or shared with other agencies, including the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Information is kept confidential for 72 years.

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

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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. 

In Raleigh, the city has shared each person represents $1,600 in funding.

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, beginning on March 23

FILL IT OUT: Take the 2020 Census today.

And if you needed another reason: bragging rights.

Wake County is now the largest county in North Carolina, according to 2019 Census figures. Wake County jumped over Mecklenburg County (where Charlotte’s located). [read more]

The last time Wake County was the population leader in N.C. was in the 1890 Census.

The growth is driven by more people moving from out of state to Wake County.

Wake County hit an estimated 1,111,761 people as of July 1, Mecklenburg was at 1,110,356.

So there’s on more reason to fill out the Census while you’re at home: To affirm our #1 spot!

New to Raleigh area?: Learn about The New Neighbor Project.

Author: raleighconvergence

Sarah Day Owen Wiskirchen is the editor of Raleigh Convergence.

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