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Study: West Virginia relies most on census-guided funding

By MIKE SCHNEIDER | Associated Press | Published: February 11, 2020

West Virginia relies the most of any U.S. state on federal money that is guided by the once-a-decade census, according to a new update of a long-running study.

Federal funding represents more than 16% of the personal income in West Virginia, according to an update released this week to the study led by Andrew Reamer at George Washington University.

Colorado had the smallest dependence on federal spending distributed with help from the census. Federal spending accounted for 6.3% of that state's personal income.

The federal spending includes money for Medicaid and Medicare as well as other programs. The most important factors accounting for the state-to-state differences in federal funding are poverty rates and the percentage of people living in rural areas, according to the study.

More than $1.5 trillion in federal funding to state and local governments is parceled out according to census data. Nationwide, census-guided funding drove 9% of personal income in 2017, according to the study.

In pure numbers, California received the most federal money of any state in 2017 — almost $172 billion. New York came in second with more than $121 billion, followed by Texas with $101 billion.

Other states receiving more than $50 billion in federal money in 2017 were Florida with almost $87 billion, Pennsylvania with $63 billion, Ohio with $56 billion and Illinois with $55 billion.

The 2020 Census started last month in a remote part of rural Alaska. But the rest of the nation won't be able to start answering the questionnaire until the middle of next month. For the first time, the U.S. Census Bureau is encouraging most participants to fill out the form online, although they can still answer the questions by telephone or by returning a paper form.

Those states that receive the most federal funding are also among those that are spending the most in outreach for the once-a-decade census. California is spending $187 million in outreach efforts, and New York State plans to spend $60 million. Separately, New York City is spending $40 million on an awareness campaign.

Texas, on the other hand, isn't planning on spending any state money for outreach efforts.

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