As 2020 census nears, groups work to ensure accurate numbers in hard-to-count Alaska

As 2020 census nears, groups work to ensure accurate numbers in hard-to-count Alaska

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“A lot of people live in Alaska because they wanna get away from government, right?” said Mike Walsh, vice president of public policy at Anchorage nonprofit Foraker Group, which convened the Alaska Census Working Group. “You’ve got someone sending you mail, email, knocking on your door, you might not be as trustful of that contact.”

Walsh was at a policy conference in Chicago in 2016 when he attended a session about the census. That raised concerns for him about the unique circumstances of tallying people in Alaska.

“The fact that we’re one of the hardest-to-count states in the nation with some of the most extensive, hardest-to-count census tracts in the country is pretty worrisome," he said.

To be sure, the census is precise on a national scale. A 2012 survey that looked at the accuracy of the 2010 census found that there was no statistically significant undercount or overcount in the population or housing units for any state, the agency said. And the bureau also does its own outreach to encourage census participation.

Still, with so much at stake, Walsh wanted to help raise awareness about the count and its impact. Alaska has the fourth highest federal spending per capita when compared to other states and Washington, D.C., according to a 2017 report from nonprofit group Council of State Governments.

Source Name: 
Anchorage Daily News
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