Stevens County's low census return rate causes concern for officials

RaeLynn Ricarte

Stevens County has a 51.4% response rate to the 2020 Census, compared to the state total response rate of 67.7%, and efforts will now be made to get more area residents to participate.

Andrew Fromm, spokesperson for the U.S. Census Bureau, said completing the census has implications for the allocation of funds that affect local public services.

Washington Sen. Shelly Short, R-Addy, said the census affects the flow of funding to more than 100 programs that provide essential services, such as roads, fire departments, hospital, Medicaid and Head Start, among others.

Fromm said participation also affects distribution of Rural Business Development Grants and Rural Development Housing Preservation Grants, both of which are beneficial to economic growth.

In addition, Short said the population count in the census is important when redistricting maps are being drawn. These maps determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives, and also draw boundaries around legislative districts.

The U.S. Constitution mandates that the population be counted every 10 years to make sure all areas have a voice in government,s aid Short. The 2020 census is the 24th time that the U.S. has counted its population since 1790.

For the full story on the low local response rate to the 2020 census, read the July 29, Statesman-Examiner.