Jacksonville leaders stress 2020 Census count

JACKSONVILLE, NC (WITN) The 2020 Census is five months away and Onslow County leaders say everyone needs to participate to avoid a repeat of the 2010 Census.

Onslow County was undercounted then, which caused their government to loose out on more than $400 million.

Local leaders say the bottom line is everyone needs to be counted. They say Onslow County has one of the youngest populations in the state with the military base and young families. They're concerned people don't quite understand what the Census is, or what it does. They want people to know the Census accounts for the local population in a way that brings in money to better the community.

The county estimates more than 20,000 people weren't counted in the 2010 Census, resulting in more than $400 million not coming in that could have if the numbers were there to justify it.

One main place where that money would go is schools. The county school system is 11th largest in the state. They already need two new schools to mitigate current overcrowding, and more school age children are expected in the next decade as Camp Lejeune is bringing in hundreds of service members. Leaders say accounting for the children that live here now is critical, because those numbers will show the need for more funds.

Brent Anderson with Onslow County Schools says, "If that money were to come into the system then that would ease the county for funding schools. It would allow more money to come our way. Onslow County is the main funder for schools and construction, so anything to take the burden off them would make it easier to find funding."

Additionally, the 0-5 year-old age group went undercounted in 2010. An accurate count there also could lead to school benefits, and well as more daycare services and activities.

Another group that was undercounted in the last Census was military spouses. Leaders say people should know the Census does not change your state of residency, and you should not count yourself as living in your legal state of residency, you should count yourself based on where you live and are participating in the community.

The 2020 Census can be completed in person, by mail, and online. Forms will be available April first.