Officials urge residents to respond to 2020 census

The homepage of the website 2020census.gov directs residents to respond to the 2020 census, which is underway now. (U.S. Census Bureau graphic)

CARTERET COUNTY — Carteret County ranks among the bottom of North Carolina counties for its response rate to the 2020 census, but residents still have time to be included in the decennial count.

The census, which takes place every 10 years, counts every person living in the United States. Census Day was April 1 and is a key reference date for the 2020 census, but it is not a deadline to respond. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau recently extended the deadline to reply to the 2020 census by three months, from Friday, July 31 to Saturday, Oct. 31, in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.   

Michele Querry with the Carteret County Economic Development Department noted the county is among the lowest in the state for households responding to the 2020 census. She said her office has been pushing the message lately encouraging more residents to respond.

“This is such an important thing for people to do and during this downtime they might be more inclined to complete it,” she said.

The Census Bureau keeps track of the response rate at 2020census.gov/response-rates. It reports response rates broken down by several metrics, including at the state and county level, as well as by city, census tract, congressional district or tribal area. For the first time, it also reports the percentage of online respondents.

According to the Census Bureau website, about 38.2% of Carteret County households have responded to the 2020 census either online, by mail or phone. That lags behind the state of North Carolina’s self-response rate of 54.5%, as well as the nationwide rate of 58.5%. The majority of Carteret County respondents did so online, in line with the nationwide response trend.

Carteret County is ranked 88th out of North Carolina’s 100 counties for the census response rate. Union County leads the state with a 66.2% response rate.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the 2020 census only takes a few minutes to complete and can easily be done online. Though it asks for certain demographic information, including race and ethnicity, responses are kept “strictly confidential,” the bureau says.

The U.S. Census Bureau says the census is important because the results help determine how federal money is given to states and communities. It also determines how to divvy up seats in Congress to states.

“The results of the 2020 Census will help determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding flow into communities every year for the next decade,” the census website says. “That funding shapes many different aspects of every community, no matter the size, no matter the location.”

The Census Bureau sent out mailers, post cards and other materials to households in early March with instructions on how to complete the 2020 census. To ensure the highest number of responses, census workers typically go door-to-door collecting responses from households that have yet to respond. However, that was suspended until June at the earliest due to COVID-19.

According to a mid-April news release, the Census Bureau is also seeking an additional 120 calendar days to deliver final apportionment counts. With the response deadline extended to Oct. 31, counts will be delivered by April 30, 2021, and redistricting data delivered to states by July 31, 2021.

For more information, or to respond to the 2020 census, visit the website 2020census.gov.

 

Contact Elise Clouser at elise@thenewstimes.com; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.

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