Justice pledges $1M in state funds to 2020 Census effort

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Gov. Jim Justice on Thursday said he’s committed $1 million in state funds to encourage participation in the 2020 Census, saying federal officials have told him the state is “behind” in the effort.

“We need to get cranking,” he said at a press conference with Census Bureau officials who encouraged residents to apply for temporary jobs helping with the count.

An estimated 74% of West Virginians responded to the previous census in 2010, according to the governor’s office. Justice said a lack of participation in the count has led to the state missing out on “tens and tens of millions of dollars” in federal grant funding.

Justice said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has twice told him that “West Virginia’s behind” in the census.

The governor created a commission in October to work on improving participation and develop ways to reach isolated residents who aren’t likely to respond to the Census, but said “we’re not moving like I want to see us moving.”

The Census also determines how many representatives West Virginia has in the U.S. House of Representatives in the next decade, Justice said.

“I want Secretary Ross and everyone, in every state, to know that West Virginia takes this tremendously seriously and I want them to say that West Virginia is leading the way,” said Justice.

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