New website provides Census response rate data

Lansing leads surrounding communities, but more than 73 percent of Lansing residents still need to respond

by Jennifer Pallay

LANSING, Ill. (March 26, 2020) – Lansing residents have actively begun responding to Census forms that arrived in mailboxes earlier this month, according to a new website that launched Friday. In fact, Lansing’s response rate is currently higher than the national average and the average from surrounding communities.

The site, www.2020census.gov/en/response-rates, provides current Census response rates by state and city/town. As of the latest figures, Lansing’s self response rate (26.7 percent) is higher than the rest of the state (23.8 percent) and the national rate (21 percent).

The newly launched web page also shows how many Census takers have taken advantage of being able to complete their Census forms online. On Monday, March 22, the national online rate was 17.8 percent. Illinois’ online rate was 20.7 percent. Lansing’s rate was 26.3 percent.

The higher rates could be in part thanks to the efforts of Lansing’s Complete Count Committee, which has been raising awareness about the Census for the past year, said chairperson Vivian Payne.

“While attending many events in town, we have found a good number of folks that were not even aware that 2020 was a Census year, as well as folks that did not know what the Census was,” Payne said.

In 2010, Lansing’s participation in the census was 76 percent. Lansing’s Complete Count Committee’s goal is to reach at least 95 percent in 2020.

“Our CCC has been working diligently to get the word out about how important it is to respond to the 2020 Census,” said Payne. “Members of the committee have attended numerous events, distributing flyers and promotional items. With the help of LNN Channel 4, we also made a video that runs on LNN and our YouTube site. In addition, the committee purchased 1,000 children’s books about the Census that were distributed to all of the preschools and day cares in Lansing.”

Lansing participants should also note that a key reference date for the 2020 Census is approaching next week. April 1 is Census Day, and respondents are asked to include everyone living in their home on April 1, 2020. This includes babies, children, adults, and college students.

“Unfortunately, the coronavirus has currently suspended our efforts to get out into the community, but we are working on other methods of outreach,” Payne said. “For the time being we will focus on social media, and we have ordered banners and yard signs to place around the village.”

This is the first U.S. Census with the option for households to respond online, by phone, or by mail. With concerns about COVID-19 and the State of Illinois being placed under a shelter in place order, this online option—as well as phone and mail options—will allow respondents to comply without having to interact in person with a Census taker later.

“We would like to encourage folks to respond right away to avoid additional mailings, phone calls, and Census enumerators knocking on their doors. It only takes about 10 minutes to respond and then you will be done for the next 10 years,” Payne said.

She said the committee has found that the two biggest factors in non-responding are that people believe their responses do not matter, or, if they respond, their information will be shared with the federal or local government.

“We want everyone in Lansing to know that their response does matter, and their information is not shared with the Village, the police, or ICE. Information from the Census is strictly used for statistical purposes only,” she said.

Lansing loses $1,400 for every person who is not counted, and that amount is lost per person, per year until the next census in 2030. The funding is crucial for things such as roads, schools, healthcare, and emergency services.

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