FL is behind most states in responding to the U.S. Census — which could mean millions lost for FL

Census field work is on pause. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

With a September 30 deadline looming for responding to the 2020 U.S. Census, Florida lags behind most states in getting info to the federal government.

Florida ranks 43 of the 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, with an 87.4 percent response rate, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The national response rate is 91.8 percent.

Idaho, West Virginia, Hawaii, Washington state and Kansas have the highest response rates, between 97.1 and 99.3, with Idaho the highest.

Responses collected are from Internet, phone, mail or in-person, and every person must be counted.

Responding to the Census is vital because the data collected is used to determine funding for everything from education and medical care to roads and job programs.

Census data also helps determine representation in Congress and in state and local governments, according to reports published earlier this month by the Committee on Oversight and Reform and Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In a report on Florida, for the 2010 Census, 16 million people were not counted, including Blacks, Hispanics and other groups.

Florida could lose $188.8-million per year if all people aren’t counted, according to the Committee on Oversight and Reform. The estimate is the amount of federal funding lost in select healthcare, job training, and education programs with just a 1% undercount.

Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.