The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, September 16, 2020 1:00 am

State again ranks high in responding to census

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

The U.S. Census Bureau says that 97.2% of Hoosier households have replied to the 2020 survey, the seventh-highest response rate in the nation.

“Historically, Indiana's participation rate in the Census has been near the top of the scale, as is true for other Midwestern states,” Timothy Swarens, media specialist for the Census Bureau, said Tuesday in an email.

Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota have response rates higher than the nationwide figure of 92.4%. The rates include self-responses and those collected by enumerators in visits to households that have not self-responded.

Hawaii and West Virginia top 99%. Five of the six lowest percentages, in the middle 80s, are in Southeastern states.

Carol O. Rogers said Indiana's traditionally strong response is driven by “civic duty” and “that Hoosier sense of community.” Rogers is co-director of Indiana University's Indiana Business Research Center and Gov. Eric Holcomb's liaison to the census.

“Of course, for this census we were able to respond over the web and for many counties that helped considerably,” she said in an email.

This was the first decennial census in which American households could fill out questionnaires online or by telephone as well as on paper. Indiana's self-response rate as of Monday was 69.7%, nearly 4 points higher than the national rate and slightly above than the state's 2010 rate with at least two weeks remaining to submit the survey.

“It's a remarkable achievement for Indiana to exceed its self-response rate in the 2020 Census from a decade ago given the challenges that the pandemic has posed,” Swarens said. “It speaks to the great work state and local leaders and other partners have done in encouraging Hoosiers to complete the census.”

Rogers noted that Complete Count Committees formed in many communities and at the state level, led by Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, to raise awareness of the census. Data from the questionnaire is used in the yearly distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal funds and the apportionment of congressional seats in each state.

“There was serious engagement among nonprofit organizations to get the word out, helped by the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance,” Rogers said.

In northeast Indiana, at least 69.9% of the households in Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, LaGrange, Noble, Wells and Whitley counties had self-responded as of Monday. Among those and Kosciusko and Steuben counties, only Huntington had not exceeded its 2010 self-response rate.

A federal judge in California has stalled the Census Bureau from wrapping up its survey Sept. 30 until a Thursday hearing on a request for a preliminary injunction by a coalition of cities, counties and civil rights organizations. They are demanding the agency restore its previous Oct. 31 deadline to help ensure a more accurate count of minority communities.

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