Cooper to NC residents: Stand up and be counted in census

Posted April 1, 2019 3:14 p.m. EDT
Updated April 1, 2019 3:31 p.m. EDT

— With the census set to begin next year, Gov. Roy Cooper on Monday urged everyone in North Carolina to participate so that the state can put forth an accurate picture of its needs in the coming years.

"This is important for our state and for everyone who lives here," Cooper said at a news conference in the State Capitol. "It is important that we're able to make data-driven decisions about our resources."

The U.S. conducts a census every 10 years, and the federal government uses the data to determine how to divvy up about $600 billion in federal funding for housing, education, health care and roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

Cooper noted the private sector also uses census data when making decisions on where to invest.

"Good decisions are based on good numbers, and the decisions that will be made in this census will impact the long-term future of our state," said state Secretary of Administration Machelle Sanders, who chairs the North Carolina Complete Count Commission.

Census results also dictate representation in the U.S. House. North Carolina picked up a 13th seat after the 2000 census – outpacing Utah by fewer than 1,000 people – and Sanders said continued population growth in the state could bring a 14th seat after next year's census.

The U.S. Supreme Court later this spring will decide whether a citizenship question added by President Donald Trump's administration will be included in the census. Some federal judges have already blocked the question, saying it would lead to an undercount, with people skipping the whole census process because they don't want to disclose whether or not they are U.S. citizens.

"We know a lot of people don't want to be counted" for various reasons, Cooper said.

So, Sanders' commission is working on a grassroots effort to reach as many people as possible through nonprofits, faith-based groups, the military, health care and education groups and community organizations.

"We have all kinds of people to reach out to the all kinds of people we have in North Carolina," he said.

Sanders said that, in addition to public education efforts, the commission will be recruiting people as census workers in the coming months.