U.S. Census just around the corner

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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - It’s that time of the decade, time for the United States to do a headcount.

Most people will receive a post card between March 12th and the 20th, and there will be plenty of options to fill out a census form.

“The 2020 census will be easier to return than any before in our history because for the first time, folks can respond online, on any device or by email or by phone,” said Pam Brust, chair of the Wood County Census Complete Count Committee. “In general they’re saying it shouldn’t take longer than 10 or 15 minutes to fill out, it’s a short form.”

Officials say filling out a form ahead of time will keep census workers from showing up.

“If you do any of those three options, then that eliminates a worker from having to come to your door,” said Kathryn Johnston.

Even if workers do come to your door, officials say all information provided by the census is completely confidential.

“The information you provide is protected by federal law. It cannot be shared with immigration enforcement agencies, law enforcement agencies or used in determining your eligibility for any government benefits. Your answers can only be used to produce statistics,” said Brust.

But that information is still vital.

“The 2020 statistics are used to determine the number of congressional seats and electoral college votes each state has. And the 2020 census is especially important because we are facing the loss of one of our congressional seats. We have not lost a seat since 1993. So that would be very important for West Virginia. The information also guides how an estimated 880 billion dollars a year in federal funding is distributed for schools, roads and other public services in local communities,” said Brust.

“It’s really important that the information is accurate, because Wood County and West Virginia is at risk of losing federal funds. And right now, I know that we have a lot of children that are suffering, and if we have access to those federal funds, that’s going to potentially change their lives. It’s going to help them a long way,” said Andy Hartleben, co-chair of Wood County Census Complete Count Committee.

Officials say everyone is legally required to participate in the United States Census.