U.S. Census could potentially bring important funds to Jonesboro

By Tristan Bennett
Delta Digital News Service

JONESBORO – The U.S. Census has occurred without fail since 1790 despite obstacles like war, natural disaster, and now, a pandemic.

The United States conducts a census every 10 years to get an accurate count of residents. In 2020, it is once again time for gather information from around the nation.

Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution mandates the count and legally requires residents in all 50 states and five territories to respond. The U.S. Census Bureau makes it fairly simple to fulfill the requirement.

According to the Bureau’s website, invitations to respond have already been sent to homes around the country. This year, anyone can respond by mail, phone or online by the April 1 deadline. After that, census takers may be dispatched to collect answers.

The survey asks a few simple questions about who lives in the home and how they are related as well as their races and sexes. There is no question about American citizenship.

These questions may seem simple to some, but Kade Holliday, Craighead County clerk, said they hold a great importance to the city and county.

“The U.S. Census is one of the biggest ways that federal money is dispersed out,” Holliday said. “You want the most people to be counted so that your area gets more of those tax dollars.”

Holliday said because Jonesboro experienced a population boom since the last census in 2010, the city can expect a significant jump in federal funds, and that money will be used to build parks, bridges and roads as well as add to the police, fire and sanitation departments.

An accurate count is also important for elected officials. Shifts in population or growth can significantly change areas they represent.

“Let’s say there’s a situation where in Arkansas we picked up a fifth (congressman), or we lost one because the population went up so greatly in another part of the country. We would have to redraw the lines to create those districts to make sure they were equal in population, so one district doesn’t have more people in it than another,” Holliday said.

While some may be hesitant to give information to a government agency, Title 13 of the U.S. Code strictly prohibits the Census Bureau from sharing personal information. Responses can only be used to produce statistics, and no information can be used against the responder. The Supreme Court has even ruled that the Patriot Act does not override the law of confidentiality on the census, and addresses cannot be discovered through the Freedom of Information Act.