April 5, 2010 | Atlantic Journal | Original Article

2010 census vital to Clayton (and Georgia’s) future

Providing your census information helps determine how more than $400 billion federal dollars are spent yearly on infrastructure and services such as hospitals, job training centers, schools, senior centers, emergency services, bridges, tunnels and other public works projects. Thus far, only 44% of Clayton residents have returned their 2010 census forms compared to 71% in 2000, despite the fact that participation is required by law.

Notwithstanding the obvious benefits, the entire southern region was undercounted in 2000, and Georgia specifically lost over $250 million in federal funding. “After the 2010 Census numbers are released, political lines will be redrawn across the South through reapportionment — the redrawing of Congressional districts — and redistricting, changes states will make to their political boundaries,” according to the Institute for Southern Studies. “An accurate count will be especially important to Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Texas, all of which stand to gain at least one Congressional seat and Electoral College vote after 2010.” To date, Georgia has 52% participation in the 2010 census compared to 69% in 2000.

Census workers are already making rounds, but be careful who you give your personal information to since con artists are always looking for victims. According to the Better Business Bureau, census workers “… will have a badge, a handheld device, a Census Bureau canvas bag and a confidentiality notice.” Ask to see their ID and badge before answering questions, and never invite anyone you don’t know into your home. Census workers may ask your salary range, but will not contact you or send attachments via e-mail, ask for a social security number, credit card or banking information or solicit donations. If you are the victim of, or suspect a possible census scam, report it.

The Clayton County Headquarters Library (865 Battle Creek Road, Jonesboro; (770) 473-3850) will host “Everyone Counts: A Census 2010 FREE Family Festival” on April 10 from 11 AM to 3 PM which includes entertainment, activities and workshops for the entire family.

If you have not received your census form by April 12, call a 2010 Census Toll-free help line for assistance.