Local group wants to count everyone

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 18, 1999

A group of county volunteers wants to get the word out about Census 2000.

The Complete Count Committee, a recently combined effort of the city and county, wants to make sure every person in Adams County is counted in next year’s census.

But while filling out census forms is easy, the census isn’t as simple as just counting people in an area.

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Census numbers are important because they translate into tax dollars for federal programs and demographics used by businesses to determine if they want to locate in an area.

According to the state Complete Count Committee, the federal government uses the census to allocate funds for community programs and services — everything from education programs and housing and community development to health-care services for the elderly and job training.

And businesses often use the numbers to decide where to build factories, shopping centers, movie theaters, banks and offices.

And it’s even more important for Mississippi this year, which came close to losing a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives because of a low census count in 1990. Congressional representation is based on the population count in the census.

&uot;It is our goal to count everyone in the state of Mississippi,&uot; said Greg Jackson of the Mississippi Counts census office.

And this time around, the government is using local residents to help count people in their own areas.

&uot;The government has decided they need the people of the community to count the people of the community,&uot; said Shirley Anderson of the state census office. &uot;In doing that, we need people – especially local officials — to get involved in the process.

&uot;In Mississippi we have never had a good count,&uot; Anderson told the Adams County Complete Count Committee this week. &uot;You know where everyone lives. You know when someone’s missing. You know where the road ends but there’s still some houses down there.&uot;

So the local committee is working to increase awareness of the census, which will be mailed to residents in the last two weeks of March 2000.

People just need to fill out the form – the information is confidential and won’t be shared with anyone else — and mail it back.

But the census office knows not everyone will return the forms.

So jobs for &uot;enumerators&uot; — the people who will knock on the doors of those people who don’t return forms — will be available next year.

To apply for them, you need to pass a general knowledge test administered by the state census office. Those tests are available periodically throughout the state and will be held locally as well. Call the census office in Jackson at (601) 362-0943 for information about when tests will be given.

Anyone interested in joining the Adams County census committee or applying to work for the census next year is welcome.

&uot;We want any and everyone who wants to be part of us to be part of us,&uot; Jackson said.

In the 1990 Census, Adams County had a 63 percent response rate — 3 percent higher than the U.S. average. But every 3 percent not returned translates into $250 million extra taxpayer dollars, said Sue Sautermeister, director of the state census office.

&uot;We want the state to get its full count,&uot; Sautermeister said.

Kerry Whipple is a senior staff writer at The Democrat. She can be reached at 446-5172, ext. 262, or by e-mail at kerry.whipple@ natchezdemocrat.com. The Mississippi census office is online at www.mississippi.counts.com.