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There’s $3.2B dollars at stake in the 2020 Census

Jan 8, 2020

A group works on translating Census education materials into Yup'ik on December 12, 2019, at the Alaska Native Heritage Center, Anchorage. (Photo by Tripp J Crouse/KNBA)

Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau starts the year-long process of counting every American, and it begins right here in Alaska. Surveyors will start work in Toksook Bay on January 21.

Gabe Layman is chair of the Alaska Census Working Group. He explains why a complete count of all Alaskans is important to the state as a whole.

"We tend to frame it in terms of the 3 ds- Dollars, Data and Democracy. The census is really important because if you care about your community, if you care about having access to services, emergency response, quality roads- it's important to be counted, because the resources allocated to do all that work are based on Census Bureau data."

Alaska annually receives more than three billion dollars from the federal government to fund services like Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP benefits, and school lunch programs.

But during the 2010 Census, an estimated undercount of eight percent in Alaska potentially left millions of federal dollars on the table.

Donna Bach is a U.S. Census Bureau Tribal Partnership Specialist. Originally from Bethel, she understands what an undercount can mean for rural communities.

"It's for public broadcasting and the marine ferry highway system, bypass mail and our university and so being counted is a solution based initiative all of us should participate in."

This year, Americans will be able to take the 10-question survey online, by mail  or by physical count from an enumerator.