BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. John Bel Edwards on Wednesday urged more Louisiana residents to respond to the 2020 U.S. Census, saying the state’s participation rate is among the lowest in the nation.
About 56% of Louisiana households have responded to the census online, by mail or by phone so far, compared to a national rate topping 61%. Edwards said Louisiana ranks 44th in the nation and last in the Deep South in its participation in the once-a-decade count of the U.S. population.
Census data determines how many members of Congress a state has and is used to divvy up significant sums of federal dollars that flow to states.
While Louisiana isn’t expected to lose a member of its congressional delegation in the updated count of residents, the numbers could be critical to the state’s continued receipt of billions in federal money spent on health care, education, social services and other programs.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of filling out the census form,” Edwards said in a statement. “Funding for many resources that our communities and state rely on are at stake, and we need every single person in Louisiana from the young to the young at heart to be included.”