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Preparations underway in Bering Strait for 2020 Census

Oct 1, 2019

The greater Nome / Bering Strait area. (Photo by David Dodman/KNOM)

Alaska Census Working Group is getting the word out about the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census, which is set to start in Toksook Bay this January. Group members like Laurie Wolf, the president and CEO of the Foraker Group, emphasize the significance of an accurate census count for Alaska.

“Lots of things are impacted by the census count, but one of them is how federal dollars are allocated to every state, so that $3.2 billion is how much federal funds have been flowing historically into Alaska, and the census data is part of that equation.”

Earlier this month, Wolf and the Alaska Census Working Group launched an educational campaign known as Alaska Counts. She says once the larger conversation started years ago about the significance of the census and its impact on Alaska, Wolf felt that every Alaskan should know three simple things about the 2020 Census:

“The census is confidential. That the census is important and impacts every Alaskan. And that it’s going to be pretty easy to participate once it happens for Alaska.”

The Alaska Counts group also supports regional census collaborations across the state, like the Bering Straits Region Complete Count Committee. Mary David of Kawerak is a member of the regional group, but there are several other Nome-based organizations represented by the complete count committee as well.

All of these regional agencies and many residents rely on federal dollars in some form. So, David says the committee works to inform the entire Bering Strait region about the upcoming census and the job opportunities that come with it.

“I think it’s a lot easier when people know the enumerators who are coming to their door to complete the census rather than a stranger from another community or even from out of the region completing the census.”

A spokesperson for the U.S. Census Bureau could not be reached for comment, but according to a statement from last year, the Bureau plans to count residents in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and other large cities by phone, mail, or online. The rest of Alaska’s communities will be counted in-person by enumerators, starting in January of 2020.

Address canvasing is currently underway across the state in preparation for the upcoming census.