2020 Census in Pandemic Times Still a Must
Monday night I filled out the United States Census 2020 questionnaire online. It was easy taking me about 4 minutes to complete. The U.S. Census Bureau says on average the questionnaire should take about 10 minutes to complete.
Mine was shorter because I live alone and didn't have to add other names and birth dates. The questionnaire did not request any income data or purchasing habits. I seem to recall a census taker was in my home in 2010 and asked for specific data in those areas.
My guess is in today's online world they already have the income information from the taxes I've filed. They probably also have information concerning my purchasing habits because most purchases are by debit or credit card these days.
Thursday Heather Slechta from the Faribault Census Counts Committee will be my guest on our KDHL AM Minnesota program. Slechta works for the City of Faribault.
This information is vital not only for our country but for our community and state. The census helps determine the allotment of congressional seats, Electoral College votes and about $1.5 trillion in federal funding for the next decade.
The current coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic could be a disaster for this operation if we don't all respond. Counting every person is usually a grassroots social operation with community leaders and others canvassing neighborhoods to encourage people to respond to the census. Scores of people, called enumerators are hired by the Census Bureau to knock on doors in hard to count areas.
Other Census Bureau employees count people living on the streets or in homeless shelters which requires face-to-face interaction. Something not recommended during the current pandemic.
Mid-March you should have received a mailer from the Census Bureau urging you to fill out the questionnaire I referenced earlier. This is the first year the census has been offered digitally.
Original plans were on April 9 to conduct early response follow-up targeting college students required to respond to the census at their school year residences, where they live most of the year. Most colleges have sent students home and are working online.
In mid-May door knocking is scheduled to begin in full force to make sure every person living in the United States is counted by the July 31 census deadline.
Last week the U.S. Census Bureau announced they would suspend any field operations until April 1, due to the current pandemic.
In 2010, 72 percent of households responded to the census before April 27, leaving census takers to visit more than a quarter of the residences in the country.
The early response follow-up has been pushed back to April 23. It's unclear when the homeless count will take place.
I hope you can tune in 9:30 a.m. Thursday for more information about our local efforts to count every resident of Faribault and RIce County.