BERGEN COUNTY, NJ - Elected officials from Wood-Ridge Councilwoman Catherine Cassidy to Governor Phil Murphy are reminding residents that there is still time to respond to the 2020 U.S. Census.
At last Wednesday's Mayor and Council meeting, Cassidy reminded residents as part of her monthly report. She is a member of the Bergen County Census Committee headed by Freeholder Germaine Ortiz.
"The committee’s goal is to make sure that the count is accurate as possible and in order for that to happen it is important to make sure that all the households fill out the Census form either online or on paper," said Cassidy. "The census takers will go door-to-door most likely in the summer following any safety protocols that the government has in place due to the Coronavirus. They want to inform people that all information is confidential and the census-takes sweat to uphold a lifetime oath not to reveal any answers or reveal any answers and it is punishable up to five years of imprisonment and up to a $250,000 fine."
Cassidy said that $800 billion is allocated each year based off Census results, and also the number of representatives for each state. Everyone living in the United States and its five territories is required by law to be counted in the 2020 Census.
Wood-Ridge Mayor Paul Sarlo encouraged residents to complete the census by August 1. In mid-August, census takers will be going door-to-door to follow up with residents who did not fill out the survey.
"New Jersey did lose a representative in the last census, and it is important not to lose another one," Cassidy explained. "As of the data from May 5th, the return rate is 69.9 percent. But there is still 30 percent of the population that is still uncounted."
The response rate for Hasbrouck Heights is 70.4 percent; the response rate for Teterboro is 27.8 percent.
Governor Phil Murphy echoed that sentiment during his Saturday press conference, where he said that the state's response rate is 59.8 percent, and ranked 21st in the nation, including the 50 states, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
"The Census is the data that the federal government and quite frankly, we in state government use to make the decisions that impact every community in New Jersey," he said. "New Jersey was undercounted in 2010 and because of that, we have left literally billions of dollars in federal aid on the table over the past decade. That undercount even impacts us today in our efforts to get more COVID-19 relief to our state."
"If this money isn't coming to New Jersey, it's going to some other state like Kentucky," he said. "Let's make sure we get it here in New Jersey. So if you have not yet taken the time to be counted...so much rides on an accurate count."
Some of the demographic tracked by the census is population. As of the 2010 census, Hasbrouck Heights had 11,842 residents, Wood-Ridge 7,626 residents, and Teterboro, 67.
“As we battle the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s data will be more crucial than ever, providing us with funding to support those who are in need over the next 10 years,” said New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way, in a recent press release. “An undercount in this year’s Census would be disastrous, resulting in communities only receiving a fraction of the aid they deserve and need, as we recover from this global health crisis.”
Many federal funded programs are based on Census data, from emergency planning and response to investments in education, health care, infrastructure and economic development – areas that have been hit especially hard during this global crisis, according to Way. Data collected from this year’s Census will determine whether New Jersey receives more than an estimated $45 billion in annual federal funds.
Census data is also used to redraw legislative districts and determine the number of seats New Jersey has in the U.S. House of Representatives.
For the first time ever, Census responses can be answered online at 2020CENSUS.GOV, as well as over the phone by calling 844-330-2020 or through the mail.
For more information, visit CENSUS.NJ.GOV.
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