Governor’s 2020 Census Commission Rallies to Protect Pennsylvania’s Share of Federal Funds

Harrisburg, PA – Today, members of the Governor’s Census 2020 Complete Count Commission held the Census 2020 PA Counts Rally to advocate for an accurate census count in the commonwealth. A complete count is essential to secure Pennsylvania’s share of federal funding, an amount close to two-thirds of the entire Pennsylvania state budget.

“The census directly impacts the federal funding and representation that our state will receive over the next decade,” said Norman Bristol Colón, executive director of the Governor’s Census 2020 Complete Count Commission. “We must ensure all Pennsylvanians are counted to protect our communities and continue investing in schools, hospitals, roads, public works, and other programs. An undercount would be too costly to Pennsylvania.”

For Pennsylvania, allocations from 16 large federal assistance programs (including Medicaid, SNAP, housing vouchers, and education grants) are derived from the census count. In fiscal year 2015, the state received $26.79 billion dollars in federal grants from these 16 programs alone. Estimates show that for every uncounted person in the next census, Pennsylvania stands to lose $2,093 in federal funding annually.

Additionally, a low count could mean Pennsylvania could lose one or two congressional seats. Pennsylvania now has 18 congressional districts, the lowest number since 1920, which limits the state’s impact on federal decisions.

The Governor’s Census 2020 Complete Count Commission was established through Executive Order 2018-05 to recommend methods and policies to facilitate the most complete and accurate census in the year 2020, including implementing strategies to reach hard-to-count populations. Hard-to-count populations include young children, racial and ethnic minorities, people who do not speak fluent English, homeless individuals, undocumented immigrants, and mobile individuals such as college students. The commission includes representation from businesses, academia, nonprofit and faith-based organizations, the health care industry, and government officials from all levels.

For Census 2020, the commission is recommending an investment of $1 per resident, which totals $12,807,000 million to support outreach and communication activities to reach hard-to-count populations.

The census is a count of all United States residents required by the U.S. Constitution every 10 years to determine congressional districts. The census is an essential policy tool. The federal government depends on census data to allocate resources, state governments use census data to draw legislative districts and to direct spending, and academics, nonprofits, and businesses rely on census data to inform and direct their work. Almost everything we know about our population and our communities comes from information collected during the decennial census and its related surveys. When Pennsylvania residents are not counted, the state loses funding and influence.

For more information about Pennsylvania’s census efforts, visit the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) website, and be sure to stay up-to-date with all of our agency news on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Michael Gerber, DCED, 717.783.1132

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