With millions at stake, citizens urged to participate in census

More than $103 million in funding to Richland County, N.D. could be lost if the local response rate to the 2020 Census doesn’t improve.

More than $103 million in funding to Richland County, North Dakota could be lost if the local response rate to the 2020 Census doesn’t improve.

Wahpeton Community Development Director Chris DeVries promoted census participation at a recent city council meeting. As of Aug. 14, 2020, Richland County’s response rate was 66.6 percent, or roughly two-thirds of the county population.

The North Dakota Department of Health reports that Richland County has a population of 16,239 individuals. Two-thirds of 16,239 individuals is 10,815 individuals. Approximately 5,424 local individuals were believed to have not responded to the census as of mid-August.

“As of that date, which is the most recent information I have, we’re down almost 3 percent (from where we would be) for responses,” DeVries said. “Door-to-door visits have not taken place, so we very well could surpass our 2010 participation by the end of the year.”

Richland County is reminded residents that “You Count in 2020.” Each resident not counted in the census, officials say, means a lost $1,900 in local government funding.

Assuming the 5,424 uncounted individuals figure is accurate, that means Richland County stands to lose $10,305,600 in funding for one year and $103,056,000 in funding over a full decade.

“Talk about the census whenever and wherever it’s appropriate,” DeVries said. “Bring it up to your friends, neighbors and family. Those numbers are important.”

DeVries shared mid-August response rate comparisons for the 2010 census and the 2020 census:

• West Fargo, North Dakota — in 2010, the response rate was 79.1 percent; in 2020, it’s been 77.6 percent

• Wahpeton — in 2010, the response rate was 68.2 percent; it 2020, it’s been 65.5 percent

• Richland County, North Dakota — in 2010, the response rate was 62.2 percent; in 2020, it’s been 66.6 percent

• Cass County, North Dakota — in 2010, the response rate was 73.9 percent; in 2020, it’s been 68.7 percent

• the state of North Dakota — in 2010, the response rate was 68.8 percent; in 2020, it’s been 63 percent

• the United States of America — in 2010, the response rate was 66.5 percent; in 2020, it’s been 63.6 percent

Data collection will end Wednesday, Sept. 30, the U.S. Census Bureau reported. Census takers are expected to visit households that have not yet responded to the 2020 Census.

“They will be wearing masks and are trained in social distancing protocols and other health and safety guidance,” the bureau stated. “If no one is home at the time of the visit, the census taker will leave a notice of visit, which includes information on how the household can self-respond to the census.”

Daily News, as a public service, will once again summarize the types of questions asked on the census:

• How many people live in your home? (The Census Bureau is asking for names so it can determine if a person’s information is submitted more than once, like if two members of the same household submit forms.)

• Who are you? (The census asks for a person’s sex, age, date of birth and race, creating statistics from the provided information.)

• Do you own your home? (A participant may be asked if the own with a mortgage or loan, own without a mortgage or loan, rent or occupy without payment or rent.)

• What is your phone number? (In this case, only one number per household needs to be submitted. Calls would only ever occur if an answer needed to be clarified.)

“The Census Bureau has stated it will not send emails soliciting responses,” Daily News previously reported. “It will also not ask for a social security number, money, bank account or credit card numbers or a household’s income.”

For more information and for additional assistance, visit 2020census.gov.

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