2020 Census

The census has a significant impact on the federal dollars Alaska receives with 18% of funding going directly to Alaska nonprofits.

Ensure an accurate 2020 Census count

Every ten years, the U.S. Census Bureau sets out to count every resident of the United States through the Decennial U.S. Census. The results of this count affect everything from the number of congressional seats a state gets to the amount of federal funding it receives.

As one of the hardest to count states in the country, and a recipient of $3.2 billion in Census-based federal funding each year, ensuring a fair and accurate count of all Alaskans in the 2020 Census and the annual American Community Survey (ACS) is important for anyone who calls Alaska home.  For this reason, Foraker has convened the Alaska Census Working Group (What is the Alaska Census Working Group?)

Why should I care about the 2020 Census?

When Alaskans are undercounted, all Alaskans lose out. The decennial U.S. Census and annual ACS determine the allocation of over $3 billion in federal funding to Alaska each year. These funds are used to build and repair roads and bridges, operate our healthcare and education systems, provide nutrition assistance to low-income children and families, develop and operate affordable housing, support our foster care system, and much more.

Consider the ways Alaska uses census data:

  • Census data is used to redraw state legislative boundaries.
  • Local governments use census data to redraw their political subdivisions.
  • Nonprofits and businesses across Alaska use census data to provide essential services and make informed investments in communities across our state.
  • Census data is used to enforce state and federal laws, including civil rights laws, voting rights requirements, and the obligation of financial institutions to serve minority populations.

Learn more about what’s at stake in Alaska.

What are the challenges of an accurate count in Alaska?

As the country’s largest and least densely populated state, Alaska has one of the hardest populations to count in the decennial U.S. Census. Without sufficient state and federal resources to conduct the census, Alaskans could be left out of the count in 2020.

In 2020, as in past censuses, many areas of Alaska will require special in-person counting methods used only in the country’s most difficult-to-reach areas. Even areas with high response rates will require costly in-person follow-up due to the state’s geography. Importantly, certain areas and groups of people are especially at risk of an undercount in Alaska, namely rural areas and those with large Alaska Native populations. According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the 2010 Census undercounted American Indians and Alaska Natives living on reservations by 4.9% percent and undercounted Alaskans in the state’s special-enumeration districts by almost 8%.

Sufficient state and federal resources are vital to ensuring that all Alaskans are counted in 2020. While the current federal budget contains significant resources for the 2020 Census, it is important to ensure that the dollars are spent well, and that adequate resources are dedicated to our “difficult to count” state. Failure to sufficiently fund the 2020 Census in the next two fiscal years leading up to the 2020 count could have serious consequences for our state.

What happens if Alaskans are undercounted in the 2020 Census

When Alaskans are undercounted in the census, our state pays. From reduced federal funding that exacerbates the state budget crisis to reductions in essential services like road repairs, an inaccurate census count in Alaska in 2020 will have a negative impact on our state in a variety of ways.

An undercount of Alaskans in the 2020 Census means:

  • The state receives less federal funding, making the current budget crisis even worse.
  • All Alaska residents experience reductions in essential services like road repairs.
  • Children and low-income Alaskans suffer disproportionately from decreases to education funding and programs that make up Alaska’s social safety net.
  • Redistricting may be inequitable because of poor data quality.
  • Governments and organizations are less able to effectively plan for the future.
  • Laws protecting vulnerable populations may not be properly enforced.
  • Governments, businesses, nonprofits, and universities do not have accurate census data to use in their research and planning.

What is the Alaska Census Working Group?

The Alaska Census Working Group is a group of key Alaska stakeholders who are committed to advocating for sufficient resources and appropriate counting methods for our state, and for the census as a whole.

While much of the early focus of the working group has been on building awareness of the importance of a fair and accurate count among local, state, and federal policy makers, our focus is shifting to ensuring the U.S. Census Bureau uses counting methods that recognize the uniqueness of Alaska.

Find out who is involved in the Alaska Census Working Group..

Learn about the working group’s priority initiatives.

How can I get involved?

We urge you to learn everything you can about the 2020 Census and the American Community Survey, and prepare to advocate for them. If you have questions, please contact Mike Walsh, Vice President/Director of Public Policy, at mwalsh@forakergroup.org.