2020 census work ready to start


December 26, 2019

Wahkiakum County residents will soon see information about the 2020 census coming their way.

"It's pretty important because those numbers give you lots of things," local census coordinator Sandi Benbrook Rieder told the Wahkiakum County Board of Commissioners on Dec. 17.

Benbrook-Rieder is working for the Cowlitz/Wahkiakum Council of Governments, which is conducting the census for the two counties.

"Our goal . . . is to count everybody and get as complete a count as possible," she said.

Planning for the 2020 census has been underway since June, she said. Interaction with the public will start with information sessions in January and February, she said, on both sides of KM Mountain to inform people and recruit volunteers who would help with data in the spring.

Also in January, Benbrook-Rieder will distribute informational posters throughout the county in schools, the community centers, senior lunch programs and other group gatherings.

"This will be the first census conducted online," she said. "So that's a big, new feature. It's the cheapest and most efficient way to get it done is to have people fill it out online. Otherwise, human beings have to go out to the missing people."

The online portal will open in mid-March; data collection will continue into April. The complete count committee will send instructional material to every home address in the county.

The committee will also provide computer access at central locations for people who don't have computers or internet access.

Finally, paper forms will be available to people who prefer them.

By law, census data is confidential for 73 years, and no personal data is shared, Benbrook-Rieder said. Census workers take an oath of confidentiality.

Census data is used by state and federal government to allocate funding for a wide variety of services and programs. A low count means a city or county will receive less funding than it should receive, based on population.


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