LIMA — More than two weeks after initial Census notifications went out by mail, 31.6% of Americans have answered the short questionnaire. Local response rates, however, are ahead of the national average.
Due to upgrades made to the 2020 Census, the national agency has provided a new set of digital tools that allow Census workers and the wider public to keep track of how well regions are responding, and as of Saturday afternoon, Census reported data shows that local residents are doing well so far.
Regionally by county, Auglaize County has completed the most Census questionnaires by population with a 40% response rate, and Mercer County, with a 39.7% response rate, follows closely in second. Other county-wide response rates include Van Wert (36.1%), Allen (35.8), Putnam (34.7) and Hardin (34.3%) counties.
Response rate breakdowns of Allen County cities include: Bluffton (39.7%), Delphos (39.3%), West Lafayette (37.1%), Spencerville (32.9%) Lima (31.8%), Beaverdam (30.6%) and Harrod (22.5%). Cairo reported a 2.2% response rate.
In comparison, Ohio’s statewide response rate is 34.1%
Census officials are encouraging everyone to fill out questionnaires when they have an opportunity to do so. Most local residents should have received mailed cards with an online access code, mailed reminders and/or physical questionnaires at this point.
In the first time in American history, the Census is moving much of its data collection online to curb costs associated with the once-in-a-decade undertaking to count every American resident. Originally, many communities had offered resources, such as public terminals, for those who may not have Internet access, but the state’s coronavirus precautions have already shut down many such locations.
As a response to the outbreak, the Census has adapted some of its operations. Non-response teams — essentially Census workers that will be knocking at households that haven’t yet responded — will be heading out later in the season by two weeks. Under the new schedule, they will begin April 23.
The mobile assistance questionnaire program employed by the Census is also being moved back by two weeks to April 13.
So far, the Census has yet to change the July 31 deadline set in place for the completion of its data collection.
More info on questions asked by the Census, its operations and how to respond can be found at https://2020census.gov/en.html.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.