Every decade since 1790, the United States Census has determined the population of each of the nation's communities. The upcoming census will take a count of the U.S. population as of Wednesday, April 1, 2020.
Census data drives a huge number of important decisions for government and the public, and not just the apportionment of legislators and the drawing of district lines. The data helps determine who receives billions of dollars in federal funding each year for everything from transportation to education and healthcare, and it influences businesses deciding where they will locate or expand.
Citing the need to have the best count possible at a time when the state is growing, Gov. Henry McMaster established a statewide Complete Count Committee for the census that includes more than 75 agencies, associations, companies and universities. South Carolina was the 10th fastest-growing state from 2010 to 2018. The 2010 Census counted 4.6 million people living in South Carolina, a number that grew to about 5.1 million by the 2018 estimate.
The official 2020 census numbers are expected to show much change for South Carolina's cities and towns. Some individual municipalities have grown by huge amounts from 2010 to 2018, such as Hardeeville, which grew by about 120%. But the growth is far from uniform. Almost all of the municipalities with populations of more than 10,000 experienced growth while most municipalities with populations of less than 400 saw their populations decrease.
Many county and municipal governments around the state have formed Complete Count Committees to help raise awareness and improve residents' response rates to the Census Bureau's requests for information. Follow-up efforts from the Census Bureau will take place after the April 1 date.
Local officials can learn more about how to get involved in outreach and where to find Complete Count Committees here. A map of hard-to-count census tracts, some with a response rate of less than 60%, is available here.