Gov. Kay Ivey says one of the most critical issues facing all Alabamians in 2020 is the nationwide census.
Ivey discussed her concerns during Tuesday night’s State of the State address in Montgomery, saying 2020 will be a “make or break year for our state.”
“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of what a full and accurate count in the 2020 census means for our state,” Ivey said. “These numbers have a direct impact on our state’s representation in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as on the billions of dollars in federal funding.”
Kenneth Boswell, director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, is leading the state’s efforts to encourage participation. Boswell said the state could lose more than $13 billion in federal funding for a variety of programs, including health care and education.
“This is not millions, but rather billions of dollars that come into this state,” Boswell said. “You add that to losing one or maybe two advocates in Washington, then you understand why this is one of the most important censuses that Alabama has ever seen.”
Alabama risks losing at least one congressional seat and billions of dollars in federal funding, including funding that supports education, if census participation is not at or above 80%. Alabama Secretary of Labor Fitzgerald Washington said low participation in the census could easily stunt Alabama’s record unemployment and job growth.
“It’s critical,” Washington said. “The Alabama Department of Labor is going to play a role in making sure that people have an opportunity to register for the census because it’s vital for the whole entire state.”
Anyone living in Alabama on March 13 is asked to complete the census. For the first time, people will be able to respond online, by phone or by mail. Letters encouraging residents to complete the census should be mailed between March 12 and March 20. Boswell said it’s very important to make sure everyone’s family, friends and neighbors are participating.
“The grassroots approach is the best approach,” Boswell said. “Ask your neighbor if they’ve filled it out. Encourage your social groups. Church ministers, talk about what it means to the community and, indirectly, to all of us.”
The official census opens for completion April 1, which is “Alabama Census Day.” For more information, visit census.alabama.gov. You can also sign up to receive reminders and information on the Alabama 2020 census by texting COUNT or CENSO to 205-304-5505.