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Feds' Prep for 2020 Census, Enlist Help from South Dakotans

The 2020 U.S. census will determine how much South Dakota's population has grown since 2012 - estimated then at 833,354, an increase of 2.4 percent over 2010. (JackFAdobe)
The 2020 U.S. census will determine how much South Dakota's population has grown since 2012 - estimated then at 833,354, an increase of 2.4 percent over 2010. (JackFAdobe)
April 18, 2019

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — As the U.S. Census Bureau begins hiring more than a half-million workers nationwide to help with the once-a-decade count, advocates for South Dakota's children are reminding residents of its importance.

The 2020 census on April 1 of next year will determine how much federal money the state receives in the areas of health care, housing, education, transportation and other vital programs. Carole Cochran, project director with South Dakota Kids Count, said sometimes children or people living in rural or isolated areas, including Indian reservations, are overlooked.

She cited a George Washington University study on how much South Dakota stands to lose if the count is not accurate.

"So let's just say there's a 1 percent undercount in especially children and others. That can result in almost $10 million less in federal funding for South Dakota per year for the next 10 years,” Cochran said.

More than a half-million workers nationwide will be hired to help with the 2020 census. Applications are being accepted now and, for the first time, people can apply online through the Census Bureau website at 2020census.gov/jobs.

Leading up to the count, the Census Bureau plans to send a letter or a door knocker to every U.S. household. And it also will be the first census since most households have adopted social media, and Cochran said that means many South Dakotans with computer access will complete the census form online.

"But, there's about 19 percent of South Dakota households that have either no internet or dial-up access only, which would be difficult for people to complete online,” she observed.

Next week, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments over the Trump administration's controversial plan to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census. Many fear the question would discourage participation in communities with a large immigrant population. The Census Bureau's own analysis showed nearly 6 percent of households - or 6.5 million people - with a noncitizen in the household would decline to complete the form.

Disclosure: South Dakota KIDS COUNT contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Youth Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Roz Brown, Public News Service - SD