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  • Joe Graviss

Legislative Update - May 11th 2020 - 2020 Census

Hi Everybody!           

Hope all the Mother’s had a blessed day yesterday.

Not long after George Washington was elected president, Congress decided that one of the country’s first orders of business was finding out just how many lived here. It declared that August 2, 1790, would be Census Day, and Thomas Jefferson, serving as Secretary of State at the time, was chosen to lead the effort. The counting not only included original 13 colonies but also several other districts that would later become states, including Kentucky.  What the numbers ultimately showed is that, just 15 years after Daniel Boone blazed the Wilderness Road through Cumberland Gap, 74,000 people were already calling Kentucky home.


It’s difficult now to think of the commonwealth as part of the West, but that was the role our state played in those early years as more citizens looked at the land and opportunity offered here. By the end of the Civil War, however, that began to change as settlers kept moving the frontier toward the Pacific Ocean.  The Commonwealth became more of a starting point rather than a destination, and between 1870 and 1970, Kentucky saw far more move out than move in, about 1.7 million people altogether.  This out-migration trend peaked in the 1940s and 1950s, but began reversing itself in the 1970s.

Our population crossed the one-million mark in 1860 and was triple that by 1960.  We exceeded four million by 2000 and hit 4.3 million in 2010.  The latest estimate, taken last summer, indicates we now have about 4.57 million people, or about 60 times as many who lived here 230 years ago. On average, we have about 110 people per square mile, which is 100 times the population density of Alaska, but a tenth of what you’ll find in New Jersey, our most urbanized state.


This year, of course, it’s time for another nationwide count, and it’s vitally important that every person calling Kentucky home is included.  This centuries-old program determines our representation in the U.S. House and is the basis for redistricting elected-office boundaries at the state and local level.  Governments and businesses alike also use these population numbers to determine where to build new roads, utilities and schools; how to better allocate emergency services and safety-net programs; and where to locate new economic development.

Overall, Census data drive about $600 billion in federal spending each and every year, and we stand to lose more than $2,000 annually for each person overlooked. We lost over 12 million dollars---a year—from undercounting children under the age of 5 years since the 2010 census. Please let’s all get counted, especially our kids and minority populations.  

Outside of voting, there’s no more important role citizens have than to simply be counted.  It takes a little time on our part once every decade, but it pays dividends in countless other ways.

The Census is working to make it easier for citizens to take part.  Those filling out the forms can return that information online – the first time that’s possible – or by phone or mail, all of which will reduce the number of households visited by the agency.

Census officials emphasize that personal information is kept confidential.  In fact, no one – not even the courts or law enforcement – can have access to that individualized data for 72 years.

The good news about this year’s Census so far is that we are doing better than most states.  In fact, Governor Andy Beshear said early this month we are now 13th best.  Still, the need to do more is there, and it takes just about 10 minutes to help us move into the top 10.

If you fill the form out online -- is the main starting point -- you will be asked for your Census ID, which you should have received in the mail.  However, people without this ID can still easily respond online.

If you’ve already filled out the Census, thank you, but if you haven’t, please consider taking that step soon.  It really does make a difference.

As always, please don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts on this or any other issue affecting Kentucky.  My email is, and the toll-free message line for legislators is 1-800-372-7181.

Thanks for all you do and holler anytime.

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