Highland County households can respond to the census by completing the questionnaire online, by phone, or by mail until Sept. 30, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s revised schedule.
In the meantime, census workers will follow up with households that have not responded, a press release from the Census Bureau stated.
“We are taking steps and adapting our operations to make sure everyone is counted, while keeping everyone safe,” said U.S. Census Bureau Director Dr. Steven Dillingham. “Our commitment to a complete and accurate 2020 Census is absolute. In this challenging environment, we are deploying these tactics to make sure we reach every household in every community. If you haven’t responded, the time to respond is now! Responding to the 2020 Census online, on paper, by phone, or in person with a census taker, helps secure vital resources for your community.”
Census workers will have a valid government ID badge, which will include their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. To confirm a census worker’s identity, call 800-262-4236 and press 1 when prompted. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The bureau stressed that census workers who followup in person will wear masks, practice social distancing, and follow CDC and local health departments’ COVID-19 guidelines. Census workers will speak with residents outside as much as possible.
Community members in areas with low-responding rates may also receive phone calls and emails from the Census Bureau.
In a press release, the U.S. Census Bureau said: “In order to supplement our capabilities to send census takers to households in person, the Census Bureau is training census takers to 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. These phone calls will enable the Census Bureau to have maximum flexibility for conducting field operations, and is one more method that census takers can use to reach nonresponding households. If a voicemail is available, the census taker will leave a message asking the household to call one of the Census Bureau’s call centers. …
“The emails will go to all households that the Census Bureau has contact information for in census block groups with a response rate lower than 50 percent. This will include households who may have already responded. In total, the Census Bureau expects to email more than 20 million households in these low-responding areas. The email messages will come from firstname.lastname@example.org and will give recipients the option to opt out of receiving future messages.
“The Census Bureau is using email addresses that households have provided in response to another Census Bureau program, or received from states (such as from their WIC, SNAP or TANF programs) or from a commercial list.”
In previous interviews, U.S. Census Bureau representatives told The Times-Gazette that the personal information community members submit will not be shared with other government agencies. Instead, the Census Bureau breaks this personal data down into statistics that cannot be used to identify or find a specific individual. The faceless data is then used by private and public entities to research and prepare for major decisions, such as where to build a school or where to invest, as well as smaller decisions, such as what products are sold in grocery store chains.
As of Monday, 63.5 percent of Highland County households had responded to the 2020 Census, according to the Census Bureau’s response rate map for this decade’s census.
Ten years ago, Highland County’s final census response rate was 64.1 percent.
Data the Census Bureau gathers during the 2020 census will affect how the government decides to allocate more than $675 billion in federal funds each year for the next decade. When community members do not respond to the census, the data cannot accurately represent the county and individual communities, which can cause Ohio and Highland County governments and organizations to be denied funding, Philadelphia Regional Census Center Partnership Specialist Samuel Knight said during a Highland County Complete Count Committee meeting earlier this year.
“Some people might think to themselves, ‘How does this have to do with me?’ or ‘What is my stake in this?’” Knight said. “Everything we do at some point in the day traces back to having good data and statistics to be able to make decisions about where money is spent and representation is allotted.”
For more information or to respond to the 2020 census, visit 2020census.gov, or call 844-330-2020 for English or 844-468-2020 for Spanish daily between 7 a.m. to 2 a.m., or 844-391-2020 for Mandarin or 844-398-2020 for Cantonese Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
For additional language support, visit https://2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond/responding-by-phone.html.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.