Joplin-area residents who have not yet filled out a 2020 census form are asked to get that done soon because the counting period will end Sept. 30.
"We only get to do this every 10 years, so now is your chance," said Ashley Micklethwaite, the executive director of One Joplin, a community organization that is spearheading the Joplin census drive. "If you have not completed the census, please do so."
The census is used to determine how much local governments receive in federal funding that totals $1.5 trillion.
The counts also are used in determining the number of U.S. House of Representatives members each state has, which then can also require changing the boundary lines of congressional districts.
An incomplete count of those who live in Joplin could cause local governments and organizations to see a reduction in the grant funding from the federal government and other providers, Micklethwaite said.
"For everyone that responds, it means about $1,300 that comes back to our community every year," she said. One estimate, she said, suggests that Joplin could lose about $30 million because of people failing to return census forms.
"If we don't meet our mark, we won't get that money because there is only so much money in the federal pie to divide up," she said. "So money that could have come to our community might be going to Iowa or South Dakota. They tend to report early and accurately."
"We want our money to come back for Joplin citizens," she said, "because we all use these services."
As examples, she said federal funds help support meal delivery for homebound senior citizens, school breakfasts and lunches, and construction and maintenance of roads.
Federal grant funds also go to provide health care services such as those at Access Family Care, Freeman Health System and Mercy Hospital Joplin.
Census information is used for a variety of purposes. Schools tap into the numbers to decide whether student population requires reconfiguring attendance zones.
Foundations and corporations use census data to award grants and other forms of assistance to nonprofits.
"Somewhere almost everybody touches a service that is impacted by the census right here in Joplin," Micklethwaite said.
The census form can be filled out at www.my2020census.gov by computer or smartphone.
"It takes about five minutes," Micklethwaite said. "It's super simple."
The online form asks for a 12-number census ID that was listed on mailed forms, but that is not needed, she said. There is a link that states that "If you do not have a Census ID, click here." By clicking on that line, residents will be taken to the form without having to provide a census ID number.
Those who do not have computer or phone access can go to a place where census takers will be working in the upcoming weeks before the census ends.
Micklethwaite said the next census event will be Saturday at the G&W Foods Cash Saver, 811 W. Seventh St.
Census takers with computers will be at a blue tent with Missouri flags on the supermarket's parking lot.
The census count was originally scheduled to end Oct. 30; however, President Donald Trump's administration decided to end it early. There is federal court action sought to move the deadline back.