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US Census deadline extended to October

Judge rules for additional time to ensure the hard-to-count communities won’t be missed

It appears the U.S. Census Bureau will have an additional month to count the entire population of the country following a Thursday ruling by a federal judge.

However, the decision to extend the enumeration to Oct. 31 could be appealed to reinstate the Sept. 30 deadline the Trump Administration is seeking.

The preliminary injunction granted by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in California states the shortened schedule ordered by the administration likely would produce inaccurate results that would last a decade.

The judge sided with civil rights groups and local governments that sued the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Commerce, which oversees the statistical agency, arguing that minorities and others in hard-to-count communities would be missed if the counting ends this month.

Despite concerns raised by top Census Bureau officials about the shortened schedule, the Trump Administration failed to consider its duty to produce an accurate head count and neglected to adequately explain a reason for it, she said.

Koh said inaccuracies produced from a shortened schedule would affect the distribution of federal funding and political representation over the next 10 years. The census is used to determine how $1.5 trillion in federal spending is distributed each year and how many congressional seats each state gets.

It isn’t too late to respond to the census by phone, internet or mail, and census enumerators are still working in the region to count people who did not respond on their own.

It is important to count every person in the region because those population numbers will be used for the next decade to determine how much money the area receives in federal programing.

“We need to emphasize that these are the data points and numbers that will be used in all grant applications for the county and communities within the county for the next decade. They will be tied directly to how much funding we can receive in order to aid residents and upgrade public facilities and infrastructure for the residents to use,” Nicholas Coggins, assistant director of the Trumbull County Planning Commission, said.

The count also shapes how seats in the U.S. Congress are distributed.

96 PERCENT

The U.S. Census Bureau has finished counting about 96 percent of the country, according to data released by the bureau. About 66 percent of people in the country responded themselves, while enumerators accounted for about 30 percent of people.

In Ohio, about 97 percent of people have been counted, with 70 percent of people responding themselves, and 27 percent being counted by enumerators. Census completion rates are higher than Ohio in 22 other states, but, the state ranks 12th for self-response rates.

The highest self-completion rates are in Minnesota, Washington, Wisconsin and Nebraska, according to bureau data.

Locally, enumerators have completed about 83 percent of their follow up work in the Akron region that encompasses Mahoning and Trumbull counties to count people who did not self-respond to the census.

In Trumbull County, about 70.3 people self-responded to the census, up slightly from the 69.3 percent who self-responded in 2010. In Mahoning County, 68.3 percent of people self-responded, slightly more than the 68.1 percent who self-responded in 2010. About 45 percent of people in both counties completed the census online.

The self-response rate was lower in the biggest cities in the two counties. In Warren, 59 percent of people have responded to it themselves, while in Youngstown, 53 percent responded themselves.

But in more suburban cities, the rates for self-response were higher.

In Cortland, 81.9 percent of people responded, as did 85.1 percent in Canfield.

People can still fill out the census by returning the document sent to their home, by going online to my2020census.gov, or by calling 844-330-2020 to complete it over the phone.

HOMELESS

The Census Bureau has begun its efforts to count people without homes. Specially trained enumerators will go to shelters, soup kitchens and other places.

“The Census Bureau is committed to counting everyone once, only once, and in the right place,” Dr. Steven Dillingham, director of the Census Bureau, said. “To reach everyone living in the United States, our census takers are conducting special operations to count people experiencing homelessness to ensure we have a complete and accurate 2020 count.”

Census statistics are crucial to programs and service providers that support people experiencing homelessness and inform how state, local and federal lawmakers will allocate billions of dollars in federal funds for local services such as shelters and soup kitchens, and programs like the Emergency Shelter Grants Program and the Special Milk Program for children, according to the Census Bureau. Local nonprofit organizations also rely on census statistics to improve where and how they provide critical services.

In preparation for counting people experiencing homelessness, the Census Bureau is coordinating with local service providers and has consulted with advocacy groups and other stakeholders throughout the country to adjust this work in response to COVID-19. The Census Bureau also is working with service provider administrators to identify locations where people experiencing homelessness are living to ensure a complete count of this population.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

rfox@tribtoday.com

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