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Summit County Wants Residents To Be Counted In The 2020 Census

U.S. Census Bureau

In 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau starts its once-a-decade efforts to count every person living in the country.Summit County is preparing for the count.

Summit County Economic Development Director Jeff Jones says the census—which is conducted every 10 years—is important for a lot of reasons.

“It impacts so many different things," Jones said. "It impacts political representation; impacts political redistricting; funds flow to emergency service providers; medical and health care providers. Housing and land use are impacted by census. Transportation dollars flow based upon census counts. Schools and education are a big benefactor.”

Jones says data from the census also provides information for economic development and social assistance into the future. In terms of funding, though, Jones says the last census resulted in $5.7 billion in funding for Utah—and $5,250 per household in Summit County. But the county was sorely undercounted.

“In Summit County in 2010, we only had a 55% response rate," Jones said. "Then all of those dollars that were lost because that percentage that didn't complete the census—that gets locked in for a period of 10 years, so the numbers can be huge with regards to financial impact.”

Jones is heading Summit County’s Complete Count Commission, which works to educate residents about the census through community outreach. Some areas performed much better in the 2010 census than others—for instance, Coalville had an 84% response rate, while Oakley and Kamus hovered around 34%.

Jones isn’t sure why some people don’t participate. He says it might be due to a lack of access in more rural parts of the county, or that the county’s immigrant population might not trust the census process, though census information is not used for enforcement actions. The Supreme Court earlier this year also blocked the Trump Administration’s request to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census. But Jones says he wants residents to know the census matters and so do the people who take it.

“We want to make sure that the census is not only looked at as a way just to access potential federal funds, but it also kind of goes to the heart of democracy as well," Jones said. "You're saying, 'I want to be counted, my voice matters.'” 

Census Day is April 1, 2020. Households can complete a census form online, by mail or by phone.  

Emily Means hadn’t intended to be a journalist, but after two years of studying chemistry at the University of Utah, she found her fit in the school’s communication program. Diving headfirst into student media opportunities, Means worked as a host, producer and programming director for K-UTE Radio as well as a news writer and copy editor at The Daily Utah Chronicle.