Making sure rural gets counted — Census 2020
Between March 12 to 20, you will be invited to participate in the 2020 Census. With over 80 rural counties out of the total 100 counties in North Carolina, the census will be an important moment, as vital resources and programs will be decided for the next decade.
Active participation in the 2020 Census will be used to determine a representation of the overall community, potentially influencing how many rural legislators will represent rural communities, a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and funding for education, economic development, etc.
According to the NC Counts Coalition, of the 15 North Carolina counties at the highest risk for an undercount, 11 of them are rural.
Vital programs that shape communities — services like disaster response and recovery, education, economic development, housing, infrastructure and public safety — are all influenced by the census count. An accurate, or inaccurate, census count has a direct economic impact on every North Carolinian too. Our state receives $16.2 billion in census-guided funds per year from federal programs, which amounts to about $1,600 per person, per year, and we simply cannot afford to lose a dime of that.
There, too, are significant electoral implications of an accurate census count, as census data is used to redraw district lines and categorize geographically-defined membership. This is extremely important in North Carolina — where 80 percent of our counties are rural and where geography and representation matter greatly. The census will also determine how many rural legislators will represent rural communities. Additionally, if our state achieves a full count, we’re slated to gain a seat in the U. S. House of Representatives.
We know that lack of access to internet, social isolation, housing status, language barriers, distrust and fear are some of the many reasons why people do not participate in the census.
To help overcome these barriers, our anchor institutions and community-based organizations — hospitals, churches, libraries, clinics, community colleges, schools, child-care centers and local and state government officials — must play a vital role in distributing information and resources to support a full and accurate count of all our rural people.
The growing economic divide between urban, rural and suburban communities in North Carolina, continuously increases throughout the years. With rural counties being hit the hardest as jobs become scarce and populations decline.
In education, 2019 national assessments ranked rural North Carolina students 34th in math and reading. With over 525,000 students, the report called North Carolina’s rural education “a dire situation that needs urgent attention at the state and community levels.”
Rural hospitals and health facilities are also seeing major impacts as over six rural hospitals have closed in North Carolina since 2010, and others are at high risk of financial stress due to lack of funding.
Geography and representation matters greatly in terms of allocating the right amount of resources to the rural parts of NC. Making sure that every person is counted will allow adequate investments in schools, infrastructure, public health, and public institutions and services.