Hattiesburg, Mississippi – On Tuesday, Mayor Toby Barker was joined by several community leaders to launch Hattiesburg Counts – the Hub City’s 2020 Census campaign.
An accurate census helps ensure that fair representation occurs at all levels of government and it directly impacts the funding Hattiesburg will receive for the next decade. It guides the process of planning for education, infrastructure and transportation, emergency preparedness and disaster relief protocols.
An accurate count also aids medical research and planning for public health, and it plays a vital role in market expansion with retail, dining and workforce development. These things and more guide Hattiesburg’s daily operations.
“The time for Hattiesburg to be counted is now,” said Barker while on the steps of City Hall. “The importance of an accurate and complete count of every person and every door cannot be overstated.”
In 2010, prior to the Census, the City of Hattiesburg was projected to come in around 51,000 people. As the third largest city in the state, the count was slated to affirm that. Instead, not a single Census tract or area within the city limits had more than a 37 percent self-response rate. This came with consequences. After the count, Hattiesburg’s population came in around 46,000 and it fell to the fourth largest state.
“In Hattiesburg, an accurate count can be difficult because we know there is a high turnover in people living here. What makes us so dynamic and so culturally diverse also sometimes makes it more challenging to accurately count every person.” said Barker. “Additionally, with two tornadoes since the last Census count, there are neighborhoods – particularly in the east side of the city – that no longer exist as they once did. Because of these things, we start the process behind the 8-ball. That’s why it’s so important that we work together, as a community, to make Hattiesburg count by filling out the Census.”
The 2020 Census will be available for response online, by mail or by phone. Between March 12 and April 3, residents will receive several touch points by mail only with information about self-response via online form. Beginning in April, paper forms will be mailed to all who have not responded online.
Representatives from the Census will never ask for a citizen’s social security number, bank account numbers or anything outside of basic demographic questions regarding a single household.
Officials also want to make sure all residents know that information collected is constitutionally and federally protected by law, and it will never be shared with law enforcement agencies like DHS, ICE, FBI, etc. Census data will only be used for statistical purposes.
Barker added, “My encouragement for every Hattiesburger – regardless of race, gender, education, citizen or non-citizen, age, religion, political affiliation – is to fill out your Census. Do it early and be done. It’s the best thing anyone can do to make sure Hattiesburg counts.”
In the coming weeks, the City of Hattiesburg will partner with local businesses, organizations and events to help promote and incentivize Census participation. Information regarding those items and additional information can be accessed via hattiesburgcounts.com.
Key dates for the Census-related communication includes:
- March 12 – 21: Residents will receive a flier by mail about self-response online.
- March 16 – 24: Residents will receive a letter with instructions and a reminder about self-response online.
- March 26 – April 3: Residents will receive a postcard as a reminder about self-response online.
- April 8 – 17: Paper questionnaires will be sent to non-self responders to date.
- April 20 – 27: Residents will receive a final postcard that says “It’s not too late!”
- May 13 – July 31: Non-response follow-up will begin in person.
- July 31: The last day to respond online, by phone or by mailed form.