COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Although the coronavirus pandemic is taking center stage in many parts of people’s lives, the 2020 census is absolutely vital.
The numbers show Columbus is lagging behind when it comes to being counted.
Just about 55 percent of Columbus is doing their part in responding to the census, that’s seven percent below the national average.
2020 is a year full of chaos. However, the coronavirus pandemic is proving just how important the U.S. Census is. Part of the 2.2 trillion COVID-19 Economic Relief Package is using census data to distribute money.
“We cannot let Augusta and other second-tier cities outdo us,” city manager Isaiah Hugley said. “It’s about money.”
Columbus currently has a 54.9 percent response rate, just about three points below Georgia’s average. The national average stands at 62.1.
“I believe our low turnout response ratio is because of the COVID-19,” Dr. Curtis Crocker Jr. said.
City leaders report one group of people are habitually being underrepresented.
“We’re lacking in many of our black and brown areas,” Crocker said.
“Black men were among the highest under-counted groups in the 2010 census with a net unde rcount rate of 10 percent from some age groups,” Hugley said. “It’s estimated 67,000 black men in Georgia, including Columbus, could go under counted in the 2020 census.”
Crocker is one of the faith leaders working together with trusted voices in the community to get the message out that the census takes seven minutes to complete and is confidential.
The impacts of the census are felt in programs like Head Start and Pell grants. Crocker gives an example of what could be improved in underrepresented communities if more people are counted.
“It’s something as simple as roads. There’s a lot of bumpy roads in South Columbus,” he said.
Columbus is at risk of losing it’s position of being the second largest city in the state because more Augusta residents are completing the census. So, make sure to take a couple of minutes of your time, right now if you can, to make sure all of Columbus counts.