Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Rural and poorest states depend most on census counts for federal funding; census awareness campaigns may help

"West Virginia, Mississippi and Kentucky rely the most on census population counts for federal funding, according to a George Washington University study released today. That’s because they have more high-poverty and rural areas that tend to get the most funding," Tim Henderson reports for Stateline. According to the Counting for Dollars 2020 study, "Census-guided federal funding made up almost 17 percent of personal income in West Virginia in 2017, the year covered by the study, and more than 12% in Mississippi, Kentucky, Arkansas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Vermont, Delaware, Maine and Montana."

The study calculated how much states depend on federal funds by creating a ratio of funding to income. Most of the funding comes from Medicare, which makes up about 4% of personal income nationwide but about 8% in Mississippi and West Virginia, Henderson reports. In contrast, federal funds made up 7% or less of personal income in faster-growing, more prosperous states like Colorado, Connecticut, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.

The largest states got the most funding overall, but census awareness efforts may have improved some states' results. California was the most populous state in 2016 with 39.2 million people, followed by Texas with 27.8 million, Florida with 20.6 million, and New York with 19.7 million. But Texas received less federal funding than New York. "California and New York have launched census awareness campaigns with tens of millions of dollars in state funding, while Texas has had only a roundtable discussion on census coordination," Henderson reports.

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