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Count of population on track to finish line

Despite virus delays, head count expected to conclude on time

Although reaction to COVID-19 has delayed some aspects of the 2020 Census, it is still expected to be completed by the end of the year, as required by the nation’s Constitution.

The process is still in the “self-count stage,” during which households are encouraged to respond themselves to the census. People can mail in the census forms, sent by mail to many households, can call 1-844-330-2020 to complete it or fill it out online at 2020CENSUS.gov.

Filling out the census takes about 10 minutes online, according to the website, and steps are taken to secure privacy and to keep information confidential.

It is important for the census to get a “complete count” of the population in the community because the numbers will be used to determine how much federal money the area can qualify for in numerous areas, including road and transit projects, Medicaid and Medicare funding and school funding, among other things.

If people don’t fill out the census, the government won’t appropriate as much funding to the area. The federal government uses the census count to appropriate about $675 billion per year. And, for every person who isn’t counted, the area will lose approximately $1,800 each year.

In spring 2019, “complete count committees” were created all over the country, including in Mahoning and

Trumbull counties.

OHIOANS

People in Ohio have been filling out their census forms more often than those nationally, according to a 2020CENSUS.gov self-response rate interactive map. View it at https://2020census.gov/en/response-rates.html

While 61.7 percent of American households have turned in their survey responses, 66.3 percent of Ohio households have — making the state ninth in the nation. Response rates are highest in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa and Nebraska.

Respondents in Ohio completed 51 percent of the surveys online.

The only city to fully complete the census is North River, North Dakota, where all 55 residents turned it in, according to the interactive data sets.

Trumbull County residents have responded higher than the state and national rate — 67.5 percent of households have turned in the survey.

The rate is slightly lower in Mahoning County, at 65.8 percent, according to the database.

In 2010, 69.3 percent of households in Trumbull County and 68.1 percent of households in Mahoning County self-responded to the survey.

LOCAL EFFORTS

“We are doing a better job reporting, but there are still a lot of people that have not been counted and we need to encourage them to do so. The main areas that need more focus are Warren, Niles, Girard and Masury,” said Nicholas Coggins, assistant director of the Trumbull County Planning Commission and a member of the Trumbull County Complete Count Committee.

After a period of sef-response focused marketing, the Census Bureau begins to use other methods to count everyone in the country.

Field workers and other census employees will help count households with mobile stations and door-to-door work.

Though the start of those programs has been delayed because of COVID-19, it won’t be long until the area starts to see census workers on the street.

“We are working to get the word back out,” said Audrey Tillis, director of Mahoning County’s Office of Management and Budget and member of the complete count committee there. “In our conversation (Wednesday) with the Census Bureau, it was noted they will be having mobile centers coming out mid-July where individuals will have tablets to take census information. At this point, the actual door-to-door census takers will most likely be going out in August, possibly sooner.”

Restrictions limiting public gatherings amid coronavirus fears have put a damper on some activities, but local orgranizers are doing what they can to get the word out, Tillis said.

“Flyers and an informational table were provided for the Juneteenth celebration downtown last Saturday. We were also able to provide information in packets that were passed out by Head Start. So you can see, we are looking for opportunities where we can. They are limited, but the word is getting out,” Tillis said.

Households may also see a postcard in the mail, detailing how to complete the survey over the phone or online.

FIELD WORKERS

Two areas in Mahoning County that have low response rates are in Campbell and the North Side of Youngstown, said Susan Licate, media specialist for the Philadelphia Regional Census Center.

Field workers will be assigned to areas with the lowest response rates.

Mahoning and Trumbull counties have been “doing well” with hiring census workers, but several areas need to be targeted, Licate said.

“We seek to hire enough enumerators from those low response tracts that will help us ensure a complete and accurate count of everyone in each county,” Licate said. “One of the many aspects as to why these are great jobs is that we seek to hire local people for local jobs. Candidates work in the areas they live and neighborhoods in which they are familiar. We want to keep the dollars local and the people in our communities thriving.”

Licate said the census is still looking for applicants that can work flexibly, up to 40 hours per week at $16 to $17.50 an hour. People 18 and over can apply online or by phone, 2020census.gov/jobs or call 1-855-JOB-2020 (855-562-2020).

Licate said although the schedules for operations have been adjusted because of COVID-19, it is still expected to be completed by Dec. 31, as mandated in the Constitution.

rfox@tribtoday.com

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