Earlier this year, Mississippi spent under a half of a million dollars to increase participation in the 2020 Census, the count of every living person that helps determine federal funding. To date, less than 60% of Mississippi residents have completed the census, meaning the state is at risk of losing millions in federal funding if the participation rate does not increase.

With only 57.2% of the population completing the census as of July 16, “this puts the state at risk for losing millions in federal funding over the next 10 years,” a news release stated. This figure is 5% less than the national average. Of the respondents, 34.8% of Mississippians completed the census via internet.

The census is a decennial count of every living person in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the five United States territories. It’s important because it is used to produce data sets to determine how billions of federal dollars are distributed to more than 100 programs like Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), National School Lunch Program, and infrastructure, to name a few.

The census can be completed three ways: by internet, mail, or by calling 844-330-2020 (toll-free).

In 2010, the self-response rate in Mississippi was 61.3%. Over the last ten years, Mississippi lost nearly $14 billion for children five and under due to an undercount in the 2010 Census, according to Mississippi KIDS COUNT.

In 2017, Mississippi received $10 billion for 55 federal programs based on 2010 Census data, according to a research project from the George Washington University Institute of Public Policy. This program, Counting for Your Dollars 2020, examines the role of the census in distributing money to federal programs. California, ranking No. 1, received $115 billion in 2017.

In the state, the top 10 counties with the lowest self-response rates include:

  • Smith – 44.1%
  • Noxubee – 43.6%
  • Carroll – 43.2%
  • Tunica – 42.3%
  • Jefferson – 42.4%
  • Jasper – 37.9%
  • Franklin – 36.9%
  • Tallahatchie – 32.4%
  • Issaquena – 31.9%
  • Wilkinson – 30.5%

Find more 2020 Census information in Mississippi Today’s census guide.


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Aallyah Wright is a native of Clarksdale, and was a Mississippi Delta reporter covering education and local government. She was also a weekly news co-host on WROX Radio (97.5 FM) and collaborator with StoryWorks/Reveal Labs from the Center for Investigative Reporting. Aallyah has a bachelor’s in journalism with minors in communications and theater from Delta State University. She is a 2018 Educating Children in Mississippi Fellow at the Hechinger Report, and co-founder of the Mississippi Delta Public Newsroom.