Rachel McDevitt is WITF’s host of Fresh Air and All Things Considered.
Rachel joined WITF in 2017. She previously reported for WITF’s Radio Pennsylvania Network, where her work earned the National Association of State Radio Network’s award for best feature two years in a row. The western Pennsylvania native started her journalism career with the CBS affiliate in Bridgeport, West Virginia. Rachel is a graduate of Temple University.
(Harrisburg) — Months before 2020 census forms are sent out, efforts are underway in Pennsylvania to emphasize the importance of the once-in-a-decade headcount.
Census Day is officially April 1, 2020, but the leader of the governor’s Complete Count Commission says the time to get the word out is now.
Norman Bristol Colon told WITF’s Smart Talk everyone should answer the census questionnaire, regardless of their citizenship status.
“Why that is so important: because whether you are a U.S. citizen or not you are using our roads, our bridges, our services, our schools,” he said.
A push by the Trump administration to include a citizenship question on next year’s count was struck down in the courts, but some advocates are still concerned immigrants will be deterred from participating.
The population count will determine how much federal funding and how many seats in Congress the commonwealth will get. They’ll also help school districts plan for future students and inform businesses on where to locate. So, Colon said, it’s important to get the numbers right.
“We don’t have recounts. Once we submit this information to the President of the United States, that is the only time that we have the opportunity to say these are the real numbers in Pennsylvania,” Colon said. “And that means that for the next ten years, we are going to be judged by those numbers.”
Data from the decennial census will be used to allocate an estimated $800 billion in federal funds to states for things like infrastructure, education, and Medicaid.
Pennsylvania stands to lose about $2,000 each year for every person left uncounted.