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Census count is vital

During the past decade, the population of the 10-county region including Eastern Ohio and the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia has dropped by 21,324 people, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

That is only slightly less than the total number of people who live in Brooke County.

That means we receive less in state education funding and less in federal aid.

It also means fewer people paying taxes to support local government services.

No wonder our school systems are shrinking. No wonder some villages and cities struggle to patch potholes.

Of course, only a boom in the area’s economy, perhaps anchored by the ethane cracker plant proposed for Belmont County, will bring more people into our region.

But fewer people also means it is vital that state and federal officials who allocate money to our communities and counties based on population know how many of us are left.

A substantial amount of that aid is calculated on a per-person basis.

In terms of clout in state and federal governments, population is critical, too. State legislators are apportioned based on population.

So are members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

In West Virginia, it is entirely possible the state will lose one of the three House members it has now, as a result of the 2020 Census.

Yes, the Census. You remember that. It’s the national count of people, done every 10 years, about which you probably have been notified. Look in the stack of mail you haven’t checked since COVID-19 monopolized your attention. Chances are, the envelope is there.

If not, let local officials know — or go online to 2020census.gov to fill out a Census form.

If you have not responded with information sought for the Census, please do so soon, either by mail or online.

Letting Uncle Sam know how many people live in our towns and counties is vital.

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