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NC's Low Census Response Rate Puts State At Financial Risk

Enayet Raheem
Unsplash/ Creative Commons

North Carolina is at risk of losing more than $5.3 billion in federal funding because of a low response rate to the U.S. Census. The managers of the state's population estimates say North Carolina is also at risk of not gaining a 14th congressional seat. 

Almost 60% of the state has responded to the census. That's below the national average of nearly 64%.

The North Carolina Rural Center is helping with census efforts. The non-profit is focusing on 15 counties with the highest risk of an undercount.

Brandy Dawson, director of advocacy for the NC Rural Center, says her organization is now targeting outreach for those areas in new ways because of the pandemic.

She also says community gathering places like churches are also contributing to the effort. 

"We've seen churches really also rallying around census completion as well," said Dawson. We know that church services are being held outside, which is appropriate, and so they're actually having some of the deacons go around and encourage people to complete the census."

The deadline to respond to the census is September 30. People can respond by mail, by phone or online. 

Celeste Gracia covers the environment for WUNC. She has been at the station since September 2019 and started off as morning producer.
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