2010 Census Underway

The US Census gets underway. South Carolina stands to receive its share of 400-billion dollars from the federal government every year, for the next 10 years. However, the palmetto state can collect most of that money only if everyone is counted as part of the 2010 census. In 2000, the last time a nationwide census was conducted, the 46 counties in South Carolina let billions in federal funds go to other states. The reason? The federal government allocates funds to communities based on census data. A decade ago, 59% of South Carolinians filled out census forms and turned them in. That may sound like a lot, until you hear the numbers. “Every person counted amounts to $50 per person for counties and $30 per person in the cities. If you miss an individual in the city, you figure you will lose $30 a year for 10 years. That multiplies real fast when a lot of people are missed,” said Bobby Bowers with the South Carolina governor’s office. Bowers made the announcement Monday at the grand opening of the West Columbia census office. He says the 2010 census document should make involvement easier. He’s hoping for at least 75% participation this time around. “In terms of the census forms, it’s the shortest form every produced. 10 questions. It’s dummy-proof.” The census program is the largest domestic undertaking in the country. And while every South Carolinian needs to be counted, a special focus for the 2010 census is on the Hispanic community. Roberto Belen oversees the Latino community in 23 South Carolina counties. He says areas like Lexington and Aiken have a growing Hispanic population. He believes helping minorities see the long-term impact of the census is critical. “It’s not for us; it’s for our children’s children.” Belen says immigrants, like many South Carolinians, have a tough time understanding the census concept. But if the state is to receive all available funding, he encourages citizens to learn fast.