Get counted

Self-response rates for the 2020 Census continue to be updated. McArthur leads the county in self-response rates, but Vinton County, as well as many other surrounding counties, fall behind the state average of self-response rates.

The Census completion deadline moved forward a month. What was originally supposed to be an extended Oct. 31 end date was shifted to Sept. 30, a decision made to “accelerate the completion of data collection and apportionment counts by our statutory deadline of December 31, 2020, as required by law and directed by the Secretary of Commerce,” according to a statement from U.S. Census Buerau Director Steven Dillingham.

The Census includes every person living in the United States, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. Residents are counted at the address where they usually live and sleep.

As of Aug. 31, Vinton County has a response rate of 57.5 percent, the U.S. Census Bureau reported. Roughly 20.6 percent of these responses were completed online.

Vinton County is divided into three “Census tracts,” cutting the county into three sections. Census Tract 9530 consists of the northern and northwestern portion of the county, and it had a self-response rate of 58.4 percent. Census Tract 9531 takes up part of central Vinton County, and it had a response rate of 60 percent. Census Tract 9532 consists of southern and eastern parts of the county, and it had a response rate of 52.3 percent.

The Census Bureau also reported that McArthur specifically has a response rate of 64.1 percent, the highest in the county. Hamden had a self-response rate of 51.6 percent, and Hamden has seen steady growth in its response rate throughout the last few months. Earlier, other villages in the county weren’t considered Census bright spots, but Wilkesville and Zaleski have seen growth in self-response rates. As of Monday, Wilkesville had a self-response rate of 38.4 percent, and Zaleski was ahead with a self-response rate of 44.8 percent.

The final self-response rate for Vinton County during the last Census, held in 2010, was 63.9 percent. The remaining portion of the population was visited by Census takers.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, non-response follow-up should occur until September. Self-response rates may be impacted by operational adjustments due to COVID-19, but updates for Ohio have been frequent.

Southeastern Ohio counties are still lagging behind the state’s average self-response rate of 68.9 percent.

Athens County reported a 60.5 percent self-response rate. Gallia County has a response rate of 60.6 percent; Meigs, 59.2 percent; Jackson, 62.5 percent; Hocking, 61.4 percent. Ross boasted the highest self-response rate in the area, coming in at 65.3 percent.

Ohio has a self-response rate that is significantly higher than the national average of 64.7 percent.

The U.S. Census Bureau must submit state population totals to the president by Dec. 31.

Ways to take the Census

This is the first year the Census will include an online option. Census takers can also opt to submit a written questionnaire or to take the Census over the phone.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that nearly 95 percent of households in the nation will receive an invitation to take the Census online. Nearly 5 percent of the population (those with P.O. boxes and those recently affected by natural disasters) will receive an invitation when a Census Bureau employee drops it off. Less than 1 percent of the population will be counted in person. This percentage exists in remote areas.

Some residents may receive a paper questionnaire with their invitation to take the Census online, depending on how likely their area is to submit an online Census questionnaire.

Individuals will never, ever be contacted on the phone to gather responses for the survey, and the Census Bureau will not send unsolicited emails to request participation in the 2020 Census.

The Census Bureau will also never ask for private information such as Social Security numbers or bank account and credit card information. The Census Bureau will also never ask for donations and will not contact you on behalf of a political party.

What questions appear on the Census

Several questions appear on the 2020 Census questionnaire.

  • The number of people living or staying in a home on April 1
  • Whether the home is owned with or without a mortgage, rented or occupied without rent
  • A phone number for a person in the home
  • The name, sex, age, date of birth and race of each person in the home
  • Whether each person is of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin
  • The relationship of each person to a central person in the home

Census responders can submit an incomplete census form and still be included in the head count, but can be fined for refusing to answer a census question or intentionally giving a false answer. Returning a partially filled-out questionnaire may also result in a follow-up phone call or visit from a census employee.

Data and the Census

Population totals gathered through the 2020 Census will be used to determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives. Ohio currently has 16 seats. The U.S. Census Bureau must submit state population totals to the President by Dec. 31, 2020.

Census data also officials forecast future transportation needs, determine areas that are eligible for housing assistance and rehabilitation loans, and locating areas in need of facilities for children, the elderly and those who are developmentally disabled.

Additionally, Census data is used to determine methods critical to emergency planning, preparedness, and recovery efforts for emergency situations. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, American Community Survey data is being used to help identify communities with large at-risk populations, such as elderly populations.

Data gathered from the 2020 Census is confidential under federal law, and it’s considered confidential for 72 years after it’s taken.

Census takers

Census takers are tasked with traveling around areas to follow up with households who have not completed the 2020 Census. They are hired locally.

Census takers may be spotted walking around neighborhoods and stopping by houses this year. This is a normal part of conducting the census. If you haven’t responded to the Census on your own, the Census Bureau sends Census takers to help make sure each resident is counted.

If someone visits your home to collect information for the 2020 Census, check to make sure that they have a valid ID badge, with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date. Census workers may also carry other equipment with the bureau’s logo.

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