Six-month countdown: Ohio ramps up census outreach
By Mary Schuermann Kuhlman
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The six-month countdown to Census Day 2020 (April 1) is officially under way, and efforts are ramping up to ensure that every Ohioan is counted.
Ernestine Jackson is among the 51 people appointed by Gov. Mike DeWine for the Ohio Census 2020 Complete Count Commission. As an AARP volunteer, she’ll focus specifically on census outreach for older Ohioans.
Jackson said census data determines how billions of federal dollars are allocated each year to state and local budgets and programs.
“There’s also funding that comes to organizations that support the 50-plus population,” she explained. “Really, all of us could be impacted if we don’t have a significant count. Even the roads that we drive on, establishing bus routes – things that just impact our day-to-day life.”
Jackson said Ohioans age 65-plus are at risk of being missed in the count, partly due to declining health, mobility issues or living arrangements. For each person not counted, Ohio loses roughly $1,200 each year for a decade. The census also determines the state’s representation in Congress.
More than 2 million children age 4 and younger were missed in the 2010 census, so Jackson said they’ll be reaching out to grandparents to ensure their children and grandchildren are counted.
“There are many grandparents that are caring for younger children,” she said, “and unless we really encourage and emphasize the importance of not just their count but that of their grandchildren, we are likely to lose a significant portion of the population.”
For the first time, the census is going beyond paper-based data collection to include internet surveys, and Jackson said AARP Ohio wants to make sure older Ohioans have access to online options. She noted that AARP volunteers around the state are learning about the count, so they can pitch in to help.
“Each of us knows at least one other person that we can influence or encourage to complete the census,” she said. “We should take that opportunity to do so, whether that’s in our church or social groups, or whatever.”
She said they’re also sharing information about census-taking jobs, which can be a unique opportunity for people 50 and older to supplement their income.
Job information is online at 2020Census.gov/jobs, and more information is at aarp.org/census.