Only 45.6 percent of Sallisaw residents have responded to the 2020 Census, a U.S. Census Bureau official said Wednesday.
Those numbers are in line with a lot of other Oklahoma communities, said Mary Jenkins, a Census Bureau representative and the Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce’s partnership coordinator.
Jenkins said it is “vitally important” for residents to respond to the Census, which has been in the U.S. Constitution since it was written in the 1700s. She said a lack of participation will bring in fewer dollars to the community and will impact the area for at least the next 10 years, when the Census will be held again.
The benefits of Census reporting include about $675 million in grants, Jenkins said, which will go toward clinics, hospitals, bridges, roads and more. That money is all based on the Census count, Jenkins told Chamber officials. Additional money will also go toward school lunches, grants for youths and even the Boys and Girls Clubs.
Answering the Census is an easy process, Jenkins said, and the information will impact almost every facet of life, whether you realize it or not. Census numbers determine representation in Congress and are also used by businesses looking to move into the area.
“Sallisaw is on the cusp of being able to court larger restaurants,” Chamber President Jaime Henson said, but only if more people respond to the Census.
Answering the Census takes about 10 minutes, Jenkins said, and it asks questions such as your name, birthdate, the number of people in your household, your relationship with them and your nationality. “It isn’t complicated at all,” she said, and there are no questions requiring your personal information.
“We just want to get everybody counted,” Jenkins said.
The most preferred way to answer the Census is online. Residents should have received letters from the U.S. Census Bureau earlier in the year about the count that include an identification number. Just plug that number into the Census website, 2020census.gov, and answer the questions. You may also respond by phone or mail, Jenkins said.
Don’t worry if you have lost your identification number. You can still respond to the Census.
Residents with post office boxes won’t receive the letter, but they can still respond by entering their street address on the Census form. Residents who don’t respond will be visited at their home by a Census employee.
Don’t worry about your information being shared or used against you in any way. Jenkins said Census workers are sworn to keep all information private. They face a $250,000 fine and a five-year prison sentence if they don’t comply.
The U.S. Census Bureau has a program that will bring representatives to the community to help residents fill out the Census, Jenkins said, and communities can schedule events to bring more people out.
Chamber Executive Director Marty Green said Wednesday that he wanted to thank local businesses and he urged Sallisaw residents to spend local.
Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer
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