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Pinellas County Encourages Participation In Upcoming Census

Census Taker walking toward door
U.S. Census
U.S. Census Bureau
Pinellas County is launching an outreach campaign to get more people to participate in the 2020 U.S. Census. COURTESY U.S. Census Bureau

A new decade means a new United States Census.

Pinellas County is announcing an outreach program to ensure as many people take part in the 2020 count as possible.

Over the past year, county officials and over 150 partners in local governments have formed the Pinellas Complete Count Committee looking to spread the importance of the census.

The outreach campaign will hold a committee meeting Wednesday at the St. Petersburg College EpiCenter at 6:30 p.m. Commissioner Kenneth Welch was initially slated to lead the meeting, but due to a family matter, Rene Flowers will step in as a replacement.

“(The meeting) will be an opportunity for us to talk about our strategy going forward and get everybody enthusiastic about spreading the word before the census starts reaching people in a couple of months,” county Marketing Project Coordinator Josh Boatwright said.

In the coming months, the committee plans to attend events like the Tampa Bay Rays Fan Fest on Feb. 8, as well as advertise on bus routes, host speaker’s bureaus and initiate a social media effort to share census information.

Boatwright said that while the campaign is aimed at everyone, it is especially focused on “undercounted” sectors of Pinellas County like St. Pete and Clearwater.

“We are trying to be strategic with our outreach campaign,” he said. “There’s definitely a good portion of Pinellas County residents that, during the last census, returned their census form… We’re also trying to reach some of our seniors who maybe aren’t going to be as comfortable using the online format that the census is coming in this year.”

In the 2010 Census, the Census Bureau mailed surveys for households to fill out and send back. This year, however, families will be mailed a unique login to participate online.

The first mailers will be sent in March, and households will be sent reminders before receiving a visit from a census taker going door to door to those who have not filled the survey out. Paper forms and surveys over the phone will still remain options as well.

The census will conduct population surveys to determine the number of seats each state will receive in the House of Representatives as well as the billions of dollars that are allotted as a result of the census data.

According to a study by George Washington University, programs across Florida received $44 billion in federal funding in 2016 because of the census data.

For more information on the U.S. Census, its local impact and the outreach campaign, visit pinellascensus.org.

Dylan Rudolph is the WUSF Radio News Intern for the spring 2020 semester.
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