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Census count complete — results will be published early in 2021

2020 Census logo
Numbers help determine how federal funds are allocated

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The 2020 Census count of American Samoa is now completed, with the results of the census count —  carried out for the US and its territories every 10 years  — is set to come out early next year, says ASG Commerce Department director Fuiavailiili Keniseli Lafaele during his department’s fiscal year 2021 budget review yesterday.

At the outset of the hearing by the Fono Joint Budget Committee, Rep. Larry S. Sanitoa inquired about the total amount of federal funds given to American Samoa for its census count, which was overseen by DOC under the American Samoa 2020 Census Office.

Sanitoa noted that this federal money helped boost the local economy by hiring local residents to work with the census office and it increased revenue for ASG through individual tax collection.

Fuiavailiili responded that American Samoa was awarded about $6 million-plus for the census 2020, which has since been completed. He pointed out that there’s just a little leftover office work to be completed by the end of next month.

According to the director, his office will know after everything is completed as to how much of this federal funding allocated for the territory was used and what’s leftover.

Responding to a question from Sen. Fonoti Tafa’ifa Aufata, the DOC director said all data and other information from the census has been sent to the US Census Bureau in Washington D.C. He said the results of 2020 count for the territory should come out in 2021 — perhaps in January or February.

Samoa News notes that the local Census office, which hired some 300 local residents, officially completed the census count early this month, and all materials and information was shipped to the US on the weekly cargo flight.

Last Friday at the Fagatogo malae — Malaeoletalu — DOC hosted the official close of the American Samoa census office, where Lt. Gov. Lemanu Palepoi Sialega Mauga spoke on behalf of the governor.

Although there was a brief interruption in the face-to-face census count, due to local COVID-19 restrictions, Lemanu pointed out that once some of those restrictions were eased later, the population count was able to be completed. Lemanu also acknowledged the leadership by local census director Meleisea Vaitoelau Filiga and US Census official for American Samoa, Jason Kopp.

The event also brought representatives from both the Executive and Legislative branches as well as local businesses, local ethnic groups and others to officially close the census. ASG and Census officials had reached out via public service announcements to local ethnic communities to ensure their full participation in the census to ensure an accurate count for American Samoa.

American Samoa first’s decennial census was held in 1920, and the last census — in 2010 — had the territory’s population at 55,519.

Local government officials including lawmakers are hopeful that 2020 count will be higher, as the numbers will help determine how federal funds are allocated to US jurisdictions.