Most people should have received a letter in the mail from the census bureau by now asking them to respond to the 2020 census.
The census is a count of every person living in the United States. It’s required by law and happens every 10 years.
The data helps determine how many seats each state will get in the U.S. House of Representatives and guides how billions of federal dollars will be allocated across the country.
For these reasons, officials said it’s imperative that each person responds to the survey.
“We expect Owensboro-Daviess County to have a good response rate to the census as history does indicate as well,” said Chad Gesser, associate professor of sociology at Owensboro Community and Technical College. “But certainly with the coronavirus, the census bureau does have concerns about making sure everybody is counted in 2020.”
In December 2018, the Daviess County Fiscal Court passed a resolution authorizing the creation of the Daviess County Complete Count Committee for the 2020 U.S. Census.
Gesser is a leading member of DCCCC, which has goals to create census awareness and events targeting populations that need better engagement.
For the first time, people can complete the census online or by phone as well as by mail. Gesser said this is what makes the 2020 census unique, adding much of the response from Daviess County has been online.
Completing the survey takes about 10 minutes.
Despite the convenience, Gesser said there are concerns that the response rate could be lower because of COVID-19.
“A lot of it has got to do with the fear of the coronavirus,” Gesser said. “Right now people are pretty distracted dealing with homelife and workout and family and friends.”
Last week, the agency suspended field operations until April 1. This means that census takers around the nation won’t begin visiting households that have not yet responded until late May.
Gesser said Daviess County historically has a 75 to 80 response rate, according to data from the 2000 and 2010 census.
“We have that data and we know that Daviess County steps up. Those rates are very high for self-response,” he said.
The bureau reported that as of March 18, more than 11 million households have responded.
Gesser said he hopes people will not only complete the census but also encourage others to do it.