US Census Enters Final Stage of Counting With a Shorter Deadline

August 14, 2020 by Gracie Kreth
US Census Enters Final Stage of Counting With a Shorter Deadline
U.S. Census forms are being mailed out and are to be filled out online or by phone.

WASHINGTON – The US Census Bureau entered its final stage of counting — moving door-to-door — with a shorter deadline. This week census takers began knocking on doors around the country in an attempt to count households that haven’t yet responded to the census. The Bureau is entering this final stage on the heels of a schedule change, moving the deadline up by four weeks. 

Right now, the Bureau is reporting a 63% response rate for the country, meaning it will need an additional 56 million responses from households. Minnesota (72.7%), Wisconsin (69.9%), Washington (69.5%), Nebraska (69.1%), Michigan (69%) and Iowa (69 %) have the highest self-response rates. On the other hand, Alaska (50.3%), New Mexico (53.7%), West Virginia (55.1%), and Maine (55.8%) are the states with the lowest response rates. Puerto Rico has a 29.5% self-response rate.

In this final stage of counting, up to 500,000 census takers are now going to households for follow-up interviews.

“America has answered the call and most households responded to the census online, by phone or by mail,” said Census Bureau Director Dr. Steven Dillingham. “To ensure a complete and accurate count, we must now go door to door to count all of the households we have not heard back from. During this phase, you can still self-respond online (at 2020census.gov), by phone (at 844-330-2020), or by mailing your completed questionnaire.”

The Bureau began these follow-up interviews within several areas July 9, but this week, they have officially started their door-to-door collection nationwide.

Last week, Dillingham announced the census will be concluding its count four weeks earlier than normal, leaving many to question if this counting goal is even feasible. By moving its deadline from Oct. 30 to Sept. 31, many former Census Bureau directors and senior staff fear this count will not be accurate, directly impacting some of these hard-to-reach communities, including homeless people and those in nursing homes and dormitories.

In a statement, the Bureau said, “We will improve the speed of our count without sacrificing completeness,” indicating increased hiring and training sessions. “Under this plan, the Census Bureau intends to meet a similar level of household responses as collected in prior censuses, including outreach to hard-to-count communities.”

Audra Harrison, US Census Bureau media specialist, said the Bureau has also added “a seventh mailing to non-responding households, additional paid media advertising in 45 languages through September 2020 and a Mobile Questionnaire Assistance program throughout low response communities.”

In April, the House approved a new deadline of April 2021 for the Bureau to deliver its count to the Department of Commerce, four months after the statutory deadline of December 31, 2020, but the Republican-controlled Senate has not followed suit, reportedly at President. Trump’s behest.

In the midst of the pandemic, the Bureau is also working with the CDC to ensure workers are following health guidelines to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19. Census takers are wearing masks, social distancing, and aren’t entering homes. They are instead conducting interviews outside, as much as possible.

Census takers may try up to six times to count each household, leaving a note after an attempted visit with information how to complete the Census. If still the census taker may not get in touch with a resident of the household, they may speak to a proxy such as neighbors or building managers. Census takers may also follow up with households by phone.

“Using information provided to the Census Bureau and third-party purchased data, the Census Bureau has a strong contact list for both landlines and cellphones assigned to houses on the Census Bureau’s address list,” read a Census Bureau press release.

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