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Some Neighborhoods Lagging Behind in Census Response

Brent Warren Brent Warren Some Neighborhoods Lagging Behind in Census ResponsePhoto courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau.
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The U.S. Census Bureau’s website offers a continually-updated tally of how many people have completed their 2020 Census questionnaire, sorted by geography.

So, with the final month of counting now underway, we can see that just over half of Columbus residents have filled out the census online. Another 10% have responded via phone or mail, adding up to a self-response rate of 61.8%.

That’s lower than the 69.1% self-response rate for the state of Ohio overall, and about two percentage points lower than the final self-response rate recorded in Columbus during the 2010 Census.

But the response rates vary greatly by neighborhood – one census tract in Clintonville, for example, has a self-response rate of over 87%, while a tract that includes parts of Milo-Grogan has a rate of 35.7%.

Census workers are currently going door-to-door to collect information from those who have yet to respond online, over the phone, or by mail.

At the state level, the Census Bureau provides data on how many people have been counted in person by census workers – in Ohio, that number is 17.2%, meaning that 86.3% of Ohioans have been counted so far. Those figures aren’t provided for cities or neighborhoods, so it’s unclear how many Columbus residents still remain to be counted.

Give the importance of the census – the data gathered is used to set congressional districts and to direct billions of dollars of federal funding – the possibility that some neighborhoods or populations might be undercounted is a concern every ten years.

This year, though, the Census Bureau is facing many new challenges, due both to the coronavirus pandemic and to President Donald Trump’s efforts to exclude unauthorized immigrants from the count.

Advocates have also raised the alarm about the Census Bureau’s decision, announced on August 3rd, to stop the count a month early – previously scheduled to go through the end of October, census workers will now only be out through the end of September, at which time the collection of online and phone responses will stop as well.

For more information, or to complete your 2020 Census, go to my2020census.gov.

A map showing the self-response rate in Franklin County by census tract. The full map can be accessed at 2020census.gov.
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