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Potter County Gearing Up For 2020 Census

October 12th, 2018

With the U.S. Census Bureau moving closer to launching its 2020 count, the agency is beginning to add staff all across the country. There will be part-time job opportunities in many rural areas to conduct fieldwork and door-to-door assessments once the census is underway. Anyone interested in potential employment as a manager, crew leader, clerk, census representative or field agent can find information as well as apply for positions online at census.gov. More information is also by calling toll-free 1-855-562-2020.

As the county’s population continues to fall, local officials say it is important that everyone complete the census survey when it is received. Census numbers have a direct effect on grants as well as government representation. Data are used to distribute more than 50 programs, including support for education, transportation, health and human services, housing, criminal justice, employment services, farming and environmental protection. For each uncounted citizen, a county loses about $10,000 in federal benefits during the decade.

“Our county’s population began falling from a modern-day high in 2002 and the mid-term census reports confirm additional declines,” said Potter County Commissioner Paul Heimel, who has volunteered as a U.S. Census Partner. “The economic impact of an undercount in 2020 would hit us even harder. The best we can do is to try to cut our losses by getting everyone counted.”

At the same time, the county has seen its median age increase as young people move away and retirees move in. Northcentral Pennsylvania counties face major fiscal challenges in the coming years, including a burgeoning need for social services tied to the aging of the baby boomer population. Residents need to realize that there’s no ulterior motive or hidden agenda by the federal government, local officials point out. By law, the census is just a population count and demographic analysis.

The Potter County Planning Department works with township and borough officials to support an accurate result from the census. Planning staff has also drawn in the county Emergency Management and Assessment offices to identify new homes. Administrative assistant Debbie Ostrom, the Planning Department’s point person, recently completed a verification process for Potter County addresses. “Deb has done an excellent job,” said Planning Director Will Hunt. “It is all done electronically now, so it is much easier and less time-consuming than in past years, when they would use paper maps and spreadsheets.”

Questionnaires have been reduced from 10 pages to 10 questions. Forms will be mailed to area residents in early 2020, beginning a long process to assure an accurate count. That’s why having accurate street addresses is important. Those who did not receive a form still will be counted and can expect to receive an official visit from a census taker when non-response follow-ups begin in May 2020.

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