PAGE – For Coconino County, the U.S. Census does much more than determine representation in government. It affects lives.
Each year, $675 billion of federal funding is distributed to states and communities. Who gets what is determined by the census results. Undercounted areas forfeit funds to other communities. It’s estimated that parts of Coconino County underreport by as much as 58 percent.
According to Page community development director, Tim Suan, Coconino County loses about $3,000 for every person who doesn’t participate in the census. In other words, if half of Page residents don’t fill out the census forms, the community loses around $12 million every year in federal benefits. Someone else gets the money.
Areas with high levels of poverty stand to benefit more in programs assisting in education, housing and health care.
The U.S. Census Bureau last July suggested 17.4 percent of Page citizens live below the poverty line ––one out of 6 people. Suan says, “in small or rural communities with limited sources of funding, state-shared revenue is extremely critical.”
Cities wishing to attract new business, industry and developments are directly affected by census participation. It’s a key resource for companies scouting locations to build. For example, a shoe store will consider population and income levels before investing in a new location. A factory will look at labor availability, a tech company might look at education and housing. All these factors and other planning information are available through the census.
In addition, local governments use the data to prepare for emergencies. Real estate developers use census numbers for revitalization and new building projects. Residents can use census data for consumer advocacy, to promote new legislation or to support community initiatives. The census is an asset for many people and on many levels.
The information given is private. Only the statistics are used. It’s a law. Personal information can’t be used by law officials or determining eligibility for government benefits.
This year, people can take the census online, making it easier for many.
For those interested in learning more or to become involved with the Complete Count Committee, a grassroots census advocacy group, the city is holding a committee census training at 5:30 p.m. on Monday July 8, 2019, at Page City Hall (697 Vista Ave). The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting too. The pay is $14.50 per hour for Coconino County residents. Apply online at https://recruitment.2020census.gov