Results are in as River Valley responds to U.S. Census at rates lower than national average

Alex Gladden
Fort Smith Times Record
The U.S. Census data showed that Arkansas' total population grew by 87,527.

The River Valley responded to the U.S. Census at lower rates than the rest of the country.

Nationally, people answered the Census at a rate of 67%. All counties in the River Valley answered the Census at percentages lower than 67%, according to the 2020 Census Self-Response by State map available from the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research & Extension.

People in all of the counties in the River Valley, except Sebastian County, filled out the Census fewer times in 2020 than they did in 2010.

People in Logan County responded at 53.9% in 2020 and 63.6% in 2010. People in Franklin County responded at 61.4% in 2020 and 62.8% in 2010. People in Crawford County responded at 60.3% in 2020 and 65.4% in 2010.

Changes:Arkansas population grows by more than 87,000 over decade

Sebastian County, the lone outlier to the trend, responded at a rate higher in 2020 than its residents did in 2010. The county's residents answered the Census at 66.2% in 2020 and 65.6% in 2010.

Northeast of the River Valley, Baxter County also responded at a rate slightly higher in 2020 than in 2010. The percentages showed 65.8% in 2020 and 65.5% in 2010.

The state of Arkansas responded to the Census at a rate of 60.6%.

Changes in population, here and abroad

According to the Census results, Arkansas' total population, including residents and those living overseas, rose by 87,527. Arkansas' residential population rose by 95,606, and Arkanas' population of those living overseas dropped by 8,079.

As of the latest Census count, the United States' total population, including residential and overseas citizens, sits at 331,108,434. The nation grew by 21,924,971. 

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States such as California, New York and Texas increased their populations. States including West Virginia and Mississippi decreased their populations. 

Why the numbers matter

Fort Smith Mayor George McGill emphasized the importance of these numbers.

“To a large extent, the federal dollars that are allocated to the states, the calculation of the amount to go to a state is determined by the Census data," McGill said.

He said that the state gets thousands of dollars per person for the next 10 years based on the Census numbers. The population count determines a large portion of the state's budget.

“That’s why it’s very critical that we get an accurate account and a complete count," McGill said.

Census taker Elizabeth Miller, right, helps Rhonda Nunley fill out her family's Census 2020 forms, Saturday, Sept. 12, at a booth set up on Van Buren's Main Street.

McGill also said that it's encouraging to see that Arkansas experienced some growth.

“And we are continuing to be an attraction for families and industries and businesses that are looking for a great place to call home," McGill said.

Impact on political representation

Arkansas' total population change was not substantial enough for the number of its congressional representatives to change. The state will continue to have four representatives.

Of the rest of the states, Texas gained the most representatives at two. Five other states, including Colorado, gained one representative.

Seven states, including New York and California, lost one representative.

McGill said that the Census has not yet released data concerning counties and cities. 

“We're all anxiously awaiting see what those numbers all look like," McGill said.