Researchers: 2020 Census Guides $1.5 Trillion in Federal Funding to State, Local Governments

The new total shows just how important it is to get the census numbers right every ten years. The same group put out a preliminary estimate of $880 billion in May.


By Mike Schneider

ORLANDO, Fla. — More than $1.5 trillion in federal funding to state and local governments is parceled out according to census data, much more than previously thought, researchers said Monday.

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“It’s a lot of money,” said Andrew Reamer at George Washington University, who is leading the research team.

The researchers arrived at the higher figure by using updated data from fiscal year 2017 instead of fiscal year 2016. They also expanded the number of programs under scrutiny, from 55 to all 316 federal programs that rely on census-derived data.

Medicare accounted for almost half of the funding, more than $710 billion, according to the researchers.

More than a quarter of the funding went to Medicaid and six smaller social services programs.

Besides guiding how federal money is distributed, next year’s census also will determine how many congressional seats each state gets.

The 2020 Census is going to be one of the most consequential censuses of our lifetime,” said Beth Lynk, an official with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. "Every community and every state has a critical choice to make: Go all in on ensuring a fair and accurate census, or miss out on a pot of more than $1.5 trillion a year in federal funding.”

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