2020 Census important for rural communities

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The 2020 census is gearing up to start collecting data in April. The census is an important event mandated by the U.S. Constitution that only happens once every 10 years.

The 2020 census is going to be a historic one for many reasons, including the addition of online completion of forms.

Previous census utilized enumerators who went door-to-door on a designated census day. Later, forms were mailed to households for residents to complete. An 800 phone number will also be available as the time of collection begins.

Pecos County encompasses 4,765 square miles, making it the second largest county by size in Texas.

Being a rural community, an undercount may leave to underrepresentation in the House of Representatives.

In the 2010 census, Pecos County was listed as having 15,507 residents. County officials suspect the number is now much higher.

An accurate count is especially important for two main reasons: money and power.

Marq Youngblood, regional recruiting coordinator for the Denver/Dallas region, emphasized how the communities can be shaped by an accurate census count.

“Results literally affect every single person,” he said.

The census results are used to disperse billions of dollars to cities and communities who need them based on population.

Youngblood said that if people do not fill out the census, they are taking money directly out of the community.

“The census gives individuals the chance to write a paycheck for their community,” he said.

As for the power aspect, the census is a determining factor of how many congressional seats a community gets and how the electoral college is composed.

Many people, especially undocumented immigrants, can rest assured that the information they give will only be used for counting purposes, census officials report.

Even those who are undocumented are encouraged to fill out a form with no personal information needed.

“We all take an oath to keep all the census responses safe and secure,” said Youngblood.

This isn't just an oath, the census bureau is not allowed to share any of the information, doing so can land them with fines up to $250,000 and prison time.

“We take that very seriously,” said Youngblood.

The answers are used for statistic purposes only.

In fact, they legally cannot share any information for 75 years, then after that time it can be shared for ancestry purposes.

Right now, the government is working to hire enough people to take the census and talk to communities.

They need 500,000 applicants to make the process run smooth.

They have to have all of the data collected and to congress by New Years Eve this year.

They are hopeful to get as many people counted as possible but they know it is unrealistic with OVER 327 million people in the United States.

The important thing for people to remember who live in man camps or are in the area for the oil field is that wherever they spend the majority of there time is where they should be counted.

If they eat, sleep and live in a place for more than half a year that is where the census will take place.

Anyone is welcome to apply to be a census taker, where they will go out into the field and encourage people to fill out their information.

Pecos County residents are looking at $18 an hour for 20 hours a week on a flexible schedule.

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