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2020 Census important to rural Georgia
Hill Jack
Sen. Jack Hill

The 2020 Census is fast approaching and never has the count been so important, especially to Rural Georgia. With all of the growth in Metro Atlanta and North Georgia, slow growth or no growth will cost South Georgia representation in the State House and Senate and weaken their position in electing Congressmen as well.

So many federal programs are population based and every rural Georgian not counted will reduce the earnings of many Federal and other programs.

It appears that the State of Georgia will grow somewhere near 10% for the 10 year period ending in 2020. What that means, or course, is that each House and Senate district must grow 10% in order to keep pace.

Less than that means that the district must expand to pick up population. The aggregate result of this process will be a net loss in rural seats.

In the fast growing urban and suburban areas, growth will exceed 10% and those areas will pick up House and Senate seats that are lost in rural areas.

2020 Census — How much will it cost?

The 2010 Census cost the federal government around $13 billion — the most ever. So officials are looking for ways this time around to achieve the count less expensively but with more accuracy.

For the first time, the census will include electronic-based options for responding to the questionnaire through the internet or cell phone. There will still be traditional methods of telephone, a paper form or through a late visit by a live person called an enumerator.

Hard to count/problem


In the 2010 Census, the three most influential variables to a census tract having a low response score were percentage of renters, percentage of people aged 18-24 and percentage of households headed by unmarried females.

Hard to count populations include rural low density population tracts. But, as noted above, these are important areas to be fully counted. Around 55 federal rural assistance programs have been identified as being census-guided.

Just to demonstrate the importance of population counts, in Georgia, the top six federal assistance programs received approximately $1.43 billion in federal assistance including such critical areas as low income housing loans, rural electrification loans, water and sewer programs, cooperative extension and business and industry loans.

2018 projections for Georgia

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the estimated population for Georgia as of July 1, 2018 was projected to be 10,519,475 and as of 2018 has been growing at an estimated 8.6% rate. Of course, if the state grew 8.6% in eight years, we have every reason to expect additional growth between now and the census in 2020. So the expectation of an overall 10% growth in this decade is certainly within reach.

Where the Fourth District stacks up

After the 2010 Census, State Senate Districts totaled 172,994 persons and every district had to be redrawn to respect the “one person-one vote” court ruling. Within the small variation factor, the Fourth district actually contained 173,075 persons.

If the projected state population reaches the 10% growth level, the state will show a population of about 10,656,418. If that holds true, each of the 56 Senate Districts will have a total of around 190,293 persons and that will be the standard all districts will have to meet.

Here are the Fourth District’s six counties’ 2010 population and the estimated 2018 population according to the U.S Census Bureau:

2010 Population Estimated 2018 Pop. 

➤ Bulloch 70,246 77,296 

➤ Candler 10,995 10,836 

➤ Effingham 52,257 62,190 

➤ Emanuel (4th Dist.) 15,935 15,945 

➤ Evans 11,002 10,721 

➤ Tattnall (4th Dist.) 12,675 12,611 


Based on the 2018 estimate, the Fourth District will contain somewhere around 189,599 persons after the 2020 Census. Compared to the 10% growth target of 190,293, it is estimated at the present time that the district would be slightly under populated by 694 people. It is likely that the growth rates in the two fast growing counties will make that difference up.