UACES Facebook Scott Talks 2020 Census And Why Completing It Before New Deadline Matters To Every Arkansan
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Scott Talks 2020 Census And Why Completing It Before New Deadline Matters To Every Arkansan

by Emily Smith - August 17, 2020

The U.S. Census Bureau announced they’re ending all counting efforts one month early. The new deadline, Sept. 30, 2020 leaves less than two months for the U.S. Census Bureau to complete all counting efforts, including the in-person follow up to households that have not yet completed their census online, by phone, or by mail.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, they are pushing this new deadline to “accelerate the completion of data collection and apportionment counts by [the] statutory deadline of December 31, 2020, as required by law and directed by the Secretary of Commerce."

As of August 18, only 63.8% of U.S. households have completed the form and only 58.3 % of Arkansas households completed their 2020 Census.

Arkansas counties have a much lower response rate than the state and national averages. This means, we still have a lot of work to do to ensure every person living in every Arkansas community is counted. Even the slightest undercount in people living here could result in the loss of billions of dollars in funding and resources for Arkansas communities over the next decade.

Recently, Emily Smith, a program associate in the Community, Professional, and Economic Development Unit, sat down with Dr. Bob Scott, the new director of the Cooperative Extension Service, to discuss why the 2020 Census matters to every Arkansan and how the Cooperative Extension Service can help ensure every community receives adequate representation, funding, and resources for the next 10 years.

Watch the video below and check out the FAQ’s for summaries of the questions explored in the video.


How Can I Complete My 2020 Census?

Complete your 2020 Census online at my2020Census.gove or by calling 800-330-2020. Additional languages can be accessed via these alternative numbers.

The 2020 Census is super easy to complete and takes about 10 minutes depending on how many people you have living in your home. There are 12 questions total.

Along with the basics of name, gender and age, the Census asks people about their ethnicity and race, how they’re related to others in the household, and whether your place is paid-off, mortgaged, rented or provided free of charge. If you have not completed your 2020 Census online, by phone, or by mail you may encounter a Census Taker at your door starting August 11. They will be adhering to the health and safety guidelines put out by each state and the CDC.

How is 2020 Census Data Used & Why Is It Important for Arkansas Communities?

The 2020 Census provides a snapshot of our nation, such as who we are and where we live. This information is critical and used to make a wide variety of funding and policy decisions on the national, state, and community levels.

National & State Level

The results of this once-a-decade count determine the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives and will be used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.

The results also determine which communities are constituted as rural and which communities are defined as urban and provide us with information about population change. Data gathered by the census determines how $675 billion dollars in federal funding is dispersed across the nation to support programs like the National School Lunch Program, Pell Grants, SNAP, along with a myriad of other programs integral to community development. 

Arkansas receives about $9 billion in funding to support 55 federally funded programs. The majority of these programs target rural communities and help bolster development initiatives like rural electrification and small business loans. That means if people don’t participate in the 2020 Census, we will miss out on funding that could support rural development efforts for the next decade.

Community Level

Residents, businesses, local government officials, and even real estate developers all use census data to make decisions and plan for communities. Over the next decade, this data will be used to make decisions that will impact the quality of life of your community. Whether it’s building a new school, repairing a road, or offering more services for families, older, adults and children, the results will help communities make decisions that will have lasting impacts for years to come. 

A 1% undercount of Arkansans could result in the loss of $750 million- $1 billion dollars over the course of 10 years for the state. 

Why Does the 2020 Census Matter for the Cooperative Extension Service?

The Cooperative Extension Service uses census data for all kinds of research. The use of current and reliable demographic data helps the Extension develop effective education and programming that meets the needs of each community. Demographic data also helps with evaluations or assessments that provide the basis for planning and decision-making for many of our programs.

Additionally, the Cooperative Extension is one of the 55 federally funded programs that relies on census data to allocate funding in Arkansas. Through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Cooperative Extension Service secures various funds that help Extension employees carry out Extension's mission of strengthening  agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices.

Where Does Arkansas Currently Rank in Its Response to the 2020 Census?

Currently, Arkansas ranks 41st in the nation with a response rate of 58.3%.

Congratulations to the following counties for being in the top five census responses on August 14. 

  • Faulkner County
  • Benton County
  • Lonoke County
  • Greene County
  • Baxter County

We would also like to give a shout out to Washington County for climbing up into the fifth spot as of today.

How Can We Can Ensure Arkansas Counts in the 2020 Census?

Email Emily Smith at elsmith@uaex.edu with any questions or requests for customizable materials.

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