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Federal Judge Orders Census Count Extended through October

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In the final stretch of the U.S. Census, North Carolina continues to lag behind the national self-response rate by 3.8 percentage points. (Adobe Stock)
In the final stretch of the U.S. Census, North Carolina continues to lag behind the national self-response rate by 3.8 percentage points. (Adobe Stock)
 By Nadia Ramlagan - Producer, Contact
September 28, 2020

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The 2020 Census count will be extended until October 31, this after a court ruling reversed the Trump administration's decision to end the national survey at the end of September.

Census workers across North Carolina say the extra month will help ensure hard-to-reach households are accounted for. The state's self-response rate lags behind the national average.

At the N.C. Counts Coalition, Director of Communications and Outreach Durrell Johnson said rushing the census tally would mean losing much-needed federal dollars.

"We need more time to count our communities. A lot of communities that haven't been accurately counted, fully counted, are Black and Brown communities, communities in rural parts of the state," Johnson said. "So, we're very excited, very pleased about the decision. But we're keeping in the forefront of our mind that this can change at any moment."

That's because the U.S. Department of Justice says it's appealing the California court's preliminary injunction. In the meantime, people can fill out their census forms online at my2020census.gov, or by phone at 844-330-2020. If households still have their paper form, it can also be filled out and placed in the mail, with no postage required.

Johnson said the lowest-responding areas are heavily concentrated in western North Carolina, the Sandhills region, and the northeast. He pointed out these regions tend to be parts of the state where residents lack internet access and where field operations were suspended due to the coronavirus.

"So, there's still roughly over a million or so individuals that have not been counted in the state of North Carolina," he said.

Johnson said he wants people to know how much is at stake. The state will lose around $16,000 over the next 10 years for every person missed in the census count.

"Funding over the next 10 years, and the funding for a lot of the programs we use every single day, is based off a very a simple population count that's done every 10 years," he said. "So, we're talking about healthcare and education, from kindergarten all the way through college."

North Carolina receives around $16 billion annually in federal funding based on census data.

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