IMPORTANCE OF THE CENSUS TO RURAL AMERICA; Congressional Record Vol. 146, No. 29
(Extensions of Remarks - March 15, 2000)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.


[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E321-E322]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




               IMPORTANCE OF THE CENSUS TO RURAL AMERICA

                                 ______
                                 

                           HON. ROBERT W. NEY

                                of ohio

                    in the house of representatives

                       Wednesday, March 15, 2000

  Mr. NEY. Mr. Speaker, as you know, this week, 112 Members of 
Congress, along with members of Leadership from both sides of the 
aisle, officially kicked off the start of the Congressional Rural 
Caucus. Over the last days, a series of events was held to promote this 
renewed bipartisan effort that will help raise awareness of the 
concerns and issues facing rural America.
  There are, of course, a number of issues that affect those who live 
in rural areas, but in reality, one event in particular can and will 
have long-lasting implications for rural America.
  I'm talking about April 1, 2000, better known as Census Day.
  Unfortunately, a number of Americans, whether they live in urban or 
rural communities, are still unaware of the importance of the decennial 
census. This is evident in the number of people, around 30 to 40 
percent, who do not respond to a Census questionnaire.
  But, I'd like to remind everyone that the outcome of the decennial 
census has the potential to change the face of rural America, both 
politically and socially.
  Before I outline the potential outcomes let me first define what is 
rural America:
  Rural and small town America is home to approximately one-third of 
the total US population, or about 82 million residents. This is equal 
to the percentage of Americans who live in urban centers.
  Of the nation's 39,000 local governments, 86 percent serve 
populations under 10,000, and half have fewer than 1,000 residents. 
These communities cover at least 80 percent of the nation's land.
  While farming remains a driving force in many rural communities, it 
no longer completely dominates the rural economy. The service and 
manufacturing sectors account for 22 percent and 17 percent 
respectively of rural employment, compared to 8 percent for 
agriculture.
  And, many will be surprised to know that overall, Pennsylvania, 
Texas, North Carolina,

[[Page E322]]

Ohio and New York have the largest rural populations, with Michigan, 
Georgia, California, Indiana and Florida close behind.
  Now, why is the census important to rural America?
  First, the Constitution requires the federal government to conduct a 
census evey ten years to help apportion the 435 seats of the House of 
Representatives among the states. So, states that have a large 
undercount are at risk of losing political representation in Congress.
  Second, billions of dollars in federal aid to states and local 
governments are allocated using census data. In 2000, almost $200 
billion in federal aid will be distributed through 20 federal programs 
that range from agriculture to community development to education to 
health.
  According to the National Association of Development Organizations 
(NADO), rural communities are at risk of losing $2,500 each year in 
federal and state aid for each person that is undercounted. That adds 
up to a significant amount of lost revenue for rural communities over a 
ten year period, especially when you consider the numbers.
  In 1990, the census missed 5.9 percent of rural renters, compared 
with 4.2 percent of urban renters. The Census Bureau also estimates it 
missed about 1.2 percent of all rural residents, which is about three-
quarters of a million people.
  Let me put this into perspective. There are six states, plus the 
District of Columbia, that have populations below 750,000. So, the 
rural undercount is equivalent to misplacing Alaska, Delaware, North 
Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, or Wyoming.
  Third, accurate census data is essential for local decision makers, 
whether economic development planners, school board members or business 
leaders. The more data rural communities have at their disposal, the 
better prepared they will be to serve their citizens in terms of 
municipal services and programs. It is also an essential ingredient in 
developing strategic plans aimed at attracting new businesses and 
industries.
  With so much at risk, it is vital that we all work together to ensure 
that rural Americans are counted. This is not a partisan issue, but a 
rural issue. Stand up and be counted Rural America!

                          ____________________