The ten-year recounting of America’s population kicked off in mid-March when the Census Bureau began sending out mailings for the 2020 Census.
On April 6, Nebraska had a 50.8 percent census completion, putting it in sixth place overall.
“The counties in the Panhandle are currently below the statewide average, where are a couple that eclipsed the 45 percent response rate, which is Dawes and Box Butte counties,” said David Drozd, research coordinator at UNOs Center for Public Affairs Research.
Scottsbluff, Cheyenne, and Kimball Counties are also close to the 45 percent response rate, but then the response rate drops off.
The census translates into money and power for its states, counties, cities, and towns.
In terms of power, the census forms political lines. The numbers are used in determining the seats allotted in the U.S. House of Representatives and locally in our legislature. In 2010 after the census, Nebraska redistricted its legislative districts, and for a brief time, it looked like the city of Alliance might be in two districts. Instead, one district was lost, and District 47 wrapped around District 48, made entirely of Scotts Bluff County, and District 43 covers most of the top half of western and central Nebraska.
“The variety of federal dollars that flow back to the states and local areas are based upon population-related formulas,” Drozd said. “The money comes back to roads, health programs, and education. So it’s really important for everyone to be counted.”
While many households have received the census, Drozd said with Covid-19, some places might not have even received their forms yet.
“The census is quite simple, it takes 10 minutes, there are 10 questions, and you only have to do it once every 10 years,” he said.
The census can be filled out at any time, online at my2020census.gov, or by phone at 844-330-2020 for English or 844-468-2020 for Spanish.