JASPER COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - There is still time to fill out the 2020 census, and those numbers will have an impact on the state of Mississippi for the next 10 years.
Less than 60% of Mississippians have self-reported so far.
Every person counted means more federal funding for the state and local communities, but thousands of Mississippians still haven’t been counted. That means state infrastructure, healthcare, education and even local fire departments could lose money.
Jasper County officials shared the importance of responding to the census, especially in rural Mississippi communities.
“It’s probably the easiest, most important thing they can do is go online and fill out the census report because this could affect their quality of life in the future,” said Haskins Montgomery, director of economic development for Jasper County.
Montgomery said each person filling out the census could equal about $5,000 worth of federal grant money.
“It’s probably more than that because Jasper County is a rural county, we have more poverty and lower modern income, so that’s probably more than $5,000 per person,” Montgomery said.
And so far, only 38.4% of rural Jasper County residents have responded. Board of Supervisors Attorney Ricky Ruffin says that number is very concerning.
“I’m scared to death of them because I’m afraid because all the side attractions, like COVID and we were hit pretty hard with storms back early in the spring, I’m really concerned about the census,” Ruffin said. “Because I don’t think folks are taking it serious. I don’t think we are in a position, because we got so many side attractions, that we’re able to put that emphasis on that census that it should be.”
So far, Mississippi is not one of the areas census takers are going door to door, and local officials are urging people to take the time to call or go online and respond.
“People are just now kind of getting themselves back to some normal life and the last thing on their mind is the census, but they need to move that to the front and center because it affects their county,” Ruffin said. “And if they don’t get signed up, it’s going to affect the funding for the next 10 years.”
That grant money and funding goes specifically towards things like school lunches and road and bridge projects. And the county needs the funding that comes from accurate census numbers.
“And what happens if we don’t get that money, it has to be made up through the local tax base, which is primarily ad valorem tax, that means you car tag, your house tax or your property tax,” Montgomery said.
People can call 844-330-2020 or go online to 2020census.gov to fill out their information. All of your your census response information is protected by law.
The 2020 census count is ending four weeks earlier than expected. The deadline to fill out the census is now Sept. 30.