GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — The U.S. Census Bureau has received about 2.6 million applications for people who want to be Census takers. It's good news for the agency, which plans to hire up to 500,000 people.

That hiring process is set to begin at the national level, but the City of Grand Rapids is still hoping to get more people to apply. On Wednesday, communication leaders from the city told 13 ON YOUR SIDE that Grand Rapids is 76.5% of the way to reaching its recruiting goal. That's up from 60% on Feb. 17.

The importance of the Census is something Mayor Rosalynn Bliss hit on near the end of her State of the City Address Tuesday.

"This is absolutely critical," she said. "The more people who stand up to be counted, the more leverage we have in Lansing and in Washington to protect and improve our city."

RELATED: GR Mayor Rosalynn Bliss focuses on 'home' in State of the City

The Census is taken every 10 years and it determines how much federal and state money each area of the country will get to spend on necessities like roads, education, health care and more. It also helps define legislative and school districts.

Grand Rapids leaders last year created the Complete Count Committee and the Be Counted GR campaign to inform people about these factors.

"We dedicated a full-time person and team to go out and engage residents and we did this about a year in advance of the actual Census," said City Manager Mark Washington.

"It's about $18,000 per person of additional federal and state funding over a 10-year period, so we want to make sure that everyone is counted and that we get the funding that we need as well as the representation that we need both in state and federal government based on our census outcome."

By April 1, every home in the country should have been invited to complete the Census by paper, over the phone, or online. In May, workers will go door-to-door to count households that have not filled the Census out.

The Census Bureau will continue accepting applications for Census workers on its website through the end of May.

"We need you to join us to make sure that your friends, your neighbors, your family are all counted because your hometown is counting on it," Mayor Bliss said.

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