Public Assets Institute > Policy Areas > Family Economic Security > Complete the Census, fight COVID-19

Complete the Census, fight COVID-19

Time is running out! Vermonters only have a month and a half to complete the 2020 Census, and we’re way behind.

Vermonters need to be counted because of the importance of Census data. Census population and poverty counts determine how much federal money many Vermont programs receive. Given increased need due to COVID-19, and the economic uncertainty of state revenues, federal funding is crucial for Vermont’s physical and economic health. Population estimates have already determined an influx of assistance for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing; emergency food and shelter; and childcare and elementary and secondary schools. For COVID-19 testing and tracing alone this has meant $65 million for Vermont, supporting over 100,000 people being tested.

While we are close to Vermont’s 2010 response rate of 60 percent, five counties haven’t gotten to 50 percent yet. And we really should be aiming for a higher response rate than we had 10 years ago – 63 percent of all Americans have already completed the 2020 census, making Vermont’s response rate 46th in the country. Without a higher response population estimates are subject to error, impacting needed federal dollars that support Vermonters. 

It is especially critical to have good estimates of the number of people living in poverty and people of color in Vermont. Certain federal allocations are tied to poverty rates, and incomplete data on communities of color in Vermont limit our ability to understand the effects of public policy and address systemic racism.

2020 has been a year rife with uncertainty. And the 2020 Census has been no exception. There was an attempt by the federal administration to add a citizenship question, which experts predicted would lead to an undercount in communities of color; a pandemic that disrupted field operations in mid-March; and most recently a decision to end Census data collection on September 30th, a month earlier than planned. 

With so much in flux, every Vermonter can contribute to some stabilization by completing their Census form. Please take a minute and complete the Census online, by phone, or in the mail. Take another minute and remind your neighbor. A more accurate count of Vermonters helps Vermonters. And right now, one constant is that helping our neighbors is more important than ever.

Posted by Julie Lowell on August 12, 2020 at 11:37 am

One Response to “Complete the Census, fight COVID-19”

  1. John Cook says:

    Thank you PAI for this very important reminder! If you aren’t counted in the decennial census, you literally don’t count in many ways with respect to federal programs and policies. So please, if you haven’t completed the census, do it now! You are an important part of our community and you need to be counted!