It’s almost time to fill out the 2020 U.S. Census.
While the window of opportunity is short, the information collected informs decisions that impact every community in America. The Census is used to count populations, allocate federal funds and apportion representation in the House of Representatives.
This makes participation crucial, according to Stephen Shope, supervisory partnership specialist with the Philadelphia Regional Census Center.
“It determines representation in Congress, how $675 billion plus dollars is distributed to states and communities every year for 10 years,” Shope said. “That’s money to schools, WIC programs, libraries, hospitals, roads... The list is lengthy, and everybody is impacted by it. For every person not counted, it’s literally resources that are taken out of that community.”
In 2010, Tract 4004, the center of Wyoming County, had 16.7 percent of residents not respond.
The remainder of the county had the following non response rates: Laceyville and Meshoppen (Tract 4001): 22 percent; Forkston, Mehoopany, Washington and North Branch Townships (Tract 4002): 18.4 percent; Nicholson and Factoryville (Tract 4003): 18.9 percent; Lake Winola (Tract 4005): 16.7 percent; Eaton Township (Tract 4006): 17.5 percent; and Monroe and Noxen Townships (Tract 4007): 17.5 percent.
Following the completion of canvassing to verify addresses for mailings, all Wave 2 offices have opened and are hiring in mass to begin Wave 2 operations, he said.
While around 95 percent of people receive mailings asking them to self respond to the Census, Shope said there are some people who won’t receive them. This includes people determined to live in areas with low mail deliverability, who will have forms hand delivered.
Efforts also get made to count those in places such as colleges, hospitals and prisons. There is also a period for enumerating homeless populations, he said.
Others can expect their invitation to respond by mid-March. Those filling out the Census could expect questions about household size, household type and details about each person living in a household, such as sex, age and race.
For the first time, people will have the ability to fill out the Census online in addition to answering the questions over the phone or filling out a hard copy and mailing it to the Census Bureau.
“It makes it more accessible to more people,” he said. “It also provides real time assessments of response rates. We can see that data virtually immediately.”
In late April to early May, enumerators are tasked with visiting residencies that did not respond and asking people to fill out the Census.
Duane Naugle has been brought on as a partnership specialist to oversee Wyoming, Susquehanna and Bradford counties during the 2020 Census.
In the near future, Shope said Naugle will start establishing partnerships with trusted voices in those counties.
For more information about the 2020 Census, including job opportunities, visit census.gov.