December 22nd, 2009

From today’s Anniston Star:

More than 54,000 Alabamians were not counted in the U.S. Census nearly 10 years ago, researchers estimate.

To put that in perspective, that would be as if census-takers missed the entire cities of Anniston, Oxford and Jacksonville — combined.

. . .

Under-counted states receive less federal money, see a reduction in federal programs and miss opportunities for growth and expansion. Census figures aren’t mere facts or headlines. They lead to improvements in states’ futures, as well.

. . .

[I]f Alabama residents and census-takers produce a more accurate count, then the state stands a better chance of receiving more federal money for a host of worthwhile programs. That includes Medicaid, highway construction projects, free and reduced-lunch programs, Head Start and many others.

Likewise, the dollar-figure estimates are staggering. Gov. Bob Riley’s office says Alabama lost $546 million during the last decade due to an inaccurate census count. Numbers from the Brookings Institution use a higher estimate — $685 million.

In robust times, Alabama is hardly in a position to leave needed government funds on the table. But these are not robust times, and the upcoming fiscal years will be Siberian bleak. Getting an accurate count, and taking full advantage of the available opportunities, is critical to Alabama’s future.

Read the full text here.

Posted by Kristina Scott