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County’s census response rate is below average

In March, homes across the country received invitations to complete the 2020 Census. It has never been easier to respond whether online, over the phone or by mail—all without having to meet a census taker.

However, Lunenburg County is below the national and Virginia rates when it comes to responding to the census. That could impact federal funds and services the county receives over the next 10 years.

“Lunenburg’s response rate is just above 50% and the towns have even lower response rates,” Lunenburg Deputy County Administrator Nicole Clark said. “And we are running out of time with a Sept. 30 deadline.”

The current response rate of 53.2% in Lunenburg County is below the state-wide average of 70.2%. These rates, according to the United States Census Bureau, are self-reported rates. Lunenburg County’s internet response rates are 19.3%.

The national response rate is 65.7%.

In 2010, the county ended up with a 47.9% response rate.

Over the next decade, lawmakers, business owners, and many others will use the 2020 census data to make critical decisions. The results will show where communities need new schools, new clinics, new roads, and more services for families, older adults, and children.

“The 2020 Census will influence community funding and congressional representation for the next decade,” Clark said.

According to Clark information collected in the census will determine the allocation of more than $675 billion in federal funds each year for states and communities.

“That includes money for things like,  emergency services, Medicare Part B, supportive housing for the elderly, libraries and community centers, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), senior community service employment programs, education, disaster planning, small business development, highway construction and so much more,” she said.

Tasha Chambers, media specialist for the Philadelphia Region of the U.S. Census Bureau, said every individual who fills out the census has a financial impact.

“It is estimated that for every person who doesn’t fill out the 2020 Census, Virginia will lose $20,000 over 10 years until the 2030 census,” Chambers said. “That $20,000 loss could be especially harmful to smaller, rural counties.”

Schools and education programs depend on the outcome of the census. Programs like head start, training for teachers, where to build new schools or expand existing schools are just a few.

Where there are more people, there are often greater needs, and fire and EMS services are often determined from the census information.

The census helps determine funding for highway maintenance and construction as well as rural business development grants, job training programs, including vocational rehabilitation and jobs services for people with disabilities.

“It is so important for all residents to complete the 2020 Census so that Lunenburg will be accurately funded and represented.” Clark said.

Individuals can visit 2020census.gov to complete the census online.