Illinois officials are focused on ensuring everyone is counted in the coming U.S. Census in part because each uncounted Illinois resident means federal funding left on the table.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed an executive order in June that created a Census department and a Census advisory board to ensure an accurate count. The state budget included $29 million to help with the count, more than the state’s ever spent on Census efforts.
Last July, the Illinois State Board of Education announced a Census Ambassador program to get teachers to talk with students about the importance of being counted.
On Monday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced $700,000 in grant funding for 32 community-based organizations to support the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census count effort.
A new analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that 316 federal programs relied on data derived from the Census to distribute at least a portion of their funds in 2017, with about two-thirds of those programs at least partially going to state governments first.
“States get $1 out of every $3 from the federal government,” Pew Director Anne Stauffer said. “They’re putting a lot of effort and time and personpower into making sure the count in their region and locality is as accurate as possible.”
Illinois received $131 billion in federal spending in 2017, but because the average household is wealthier, the state’s net position was negative $364 per person, according to a recent report from the Rockefeller Institute.
“The Census count can have a large impact on state budgets and, therefore, states are really paying attention, trying to make sure that their populations are as accurately represented as possible,” Stauffer said.
Illinois has long been losing residents to other states, but it’s grown from a trickle to a steady outflow that’s outpaced in-migration and births for five consecutive years.
In 2017, Pennsylvania passed Illinois to become the nation’s fifth-largest state.