Marlboro’s census response rate is ranked 27th in the state

  • 18 September 2020
  • Author: Dan McNiel
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Marlboro County ranks 27 among the 46 counties for its percentage of households counted for the 2020 Census.
As of Sept. 11, South Carolina ranked 46 among the 50 states. Idaho is ranked at number one while Alabama is ranked last.
South Carolina is at 59.6 percent.
According to a recent U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee report, South Carolina could lose $40.3 million in annual federal healthcare, job training, and education funding, if there is just one percent undercount. 
Rev. Doris Smith, pastor of St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church, said she often hears people complaining about why there isn’t anything in the county. She wanted to remind people the money follows the numbers. 
“If it takes 50k people to get better health services and other services as larger cities have and the census shows that we only have 45k, we’re not getting any money,” Smith said. “Not because 50k don’t live in the area, but because 5k people decided they didn’t want to participate in the census.”
In the state, York County is number one with 69.5 percent while Allendale County is last at 38.5 percent.
Marlboro County has had 53.2 percent of its households counted. At this time 10 years ago, 69 to 70 percent had been counted.
Pearlie Lawson, the coordinator of the Marlboro County Complete Count Committee, said the initial goal was 80 percent.
“We are behind in our census count,” she said. “The goal is to get what we had in 2010.”
Marlboro County is ranked higher than Chesterfield (28) Darlington (30), and Dillon (44). Florence is at 16.
The response rate in the county has the City of Bennettsville at 54.9 percent; McColl at 49.2 percent; Tatum, 47.4 percent; Clio, 44.4 percent; and Blenheim at 40.8 percent.
Lawson thanked everyone who has been working hard to get the numbers up. She was impressed with the Town of Tatum’s number for three months, it had been at 12 percent. She applauded volunteer Betty Jo Quick for doing a lot of work there.
Nichole Gibson, a community outreach advocate for Welvista, emphasized the importance of responding to the census because of the funding for federal and state programs.
“The federal government bases a large amount of its spending decisions on census data,” she said. “Researchers concluded last year that in the 2015 fiscal year, 132 government programs used information from the census to determine how to allocate more than $675 billion, much of it for programs that serve lower-income families, including Head Start, Medicare, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Pell grants for college and reduced-price school lunch programs. Highway spending is also apportioned according to census data.”
In addition to COVID-19 forcing the Census Bureau to temporarily suspend its fieldwork, there have been glitches in the system that resulted in some who had responded not being counted. Census takers were having to reinput the information.
Lawson noted September 30 is the last day.
“Make phone calls,” she said. “Do whatever you can do as a leader, pastor, or community person, please encourage everyone to take part in the 2020 Census.”
Doug Jennings, a local attorney and former representative, encouraged people to complete their 2020 Census.
“Our community is directly affected by so many things based on the Census count, including, for example, getting a local hospital to re-open in Marlboro and including representation in Columbia and Washington,” he said. So people need to all be counted to help our county to have legislators who live here and know our needs....and to give us a better chance to have a local hospital.”
Completing the census takes less than 10 minutes and can be done on my2020census.gov or by calling 1-844-330-2020. The last day for census self-response is Sept. 30.

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