March 15, 2000 - Issue: Vol. 146, No. 29 — Daily Edition106th Congress (1999 - 2000) - 2nd Session
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! ____________________