How important is the decennial Census for distribution of Federal Funds?

According to the recent Census Barriers, Attitudes, and Motivators Study (CBAMS), the top three factors motivating respondents to fill out the census include: 1) helps determine funding for public services (30%), 2) it’s a civic duty (25%) and, 3) contributes to a better future for the community (17%).

The above data demonstrate that individuals realize the general importance of the decennial census for determining funding for public services, but just how important is the census for allocating funds to states, cities, and local municipalities? Andrew Reamer, a Research Professor at George Washington University, has been crunching the numbers to tackle this question. In a recent publication, Professor Reamer reports that in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, more than $883 Billion in federal funding (from the 55 largest federal spending programs) was guided by Census 2010 data. In Oregon, the number was more than $13 Billion (see the image below). The largest federal program allocations in Oregon are:

  1. Medicaid ($6.7 Billion)

  2. Federal Student Loans ($1.3 Billion)

  3. SNAP ($1.1 Billion)

In per capita terms, the more than $13 Billion in federal funding that Oregon received in FY2016 equates to $3,200 per Oregonian guided by Census 2010 data.

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The Counting For Dollars Report, authored by Professor Reamer, can be found here.

Jason Jurjevich