Have you filled out your Census questionnaire and curious about how others are responding?
The 2020 Census now has a user-friendly online interactive map available for residents across the nation to track response rates by state, county, city, and town with just a few clicks at 2020census.gov.
While scheduled efforts to collect online and phone response data have remained mostly unchanged, all public canvassing efforts have been put on hold to avoid in-person contact due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Taking into consideration a period of life adjustments in the wake of the pandemic, earlier response reports from Kern County might appear somewhat mild, but as the week progressed those numbers show some increase.
Rates are broken down into two mode categories for quick reference: Total Self-Response and Internet Self-Response:
March 19: 13.8% (Total) / 11.4% (Internet)
March 31: 36.6% (Total) / 31.2% (Internet)
April 1: 39.2% (Total) / 33.6% (Internet)
May 20: 59.3% (Total) / 46.2% (Internet)
Map updates are posted daily at 3 p.m. Totals reflect household response by mail, online, or phone.
The Census is encouraging residents to review and compare response rates between 2010 and 2020 using the map and post their findings on social media, along with sharing their findings with Census partners, local media and stakeholders.
Census questionnaire data is critical for emergency planning, response and the social programs helping keep family’s afloat in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic. When residents go uncounted due to inaccurate or incomplete questionnaires many community resources are overstrained. A complete count with accurate data will also lead to better emergency responses in the future.
How do we get these higher these response rates? Fill out your questionnaire and challenge others to do the same!
The importance of self-responding
Kern households can do their part by self-responding to the census online, by phone, or by completing a pre-stamped paper form. It’s quick, easy, and can be done alone at home.
Louis Medina, Director of Community Impact with the Kern Community Foundation and a member of the Kern Complete Count Committee chose to complete his questionnaire by phone after it arrived in his mailbox as promised on March 12.
Following the directions on the form, Medina called the number listed to begin the process.
“The first greeting I got was an automated greeting in Spanish, which I think was because the last Census I filled it out in Spanish. Once the live operator came on, she spoke in English to me and asked if that was okay,” he said.
Tip: Make sure to have your Census form in hand or nearby, if calling by phone, an operator will ask you the unique alphanumeric code listed on the form. That number is assigned to your address.
“The operator asked for my code from the form, plugged it in and then asked if the address that came up was mine. It was. Then, we just started going down the list of questions and didn’t deviate from the form at all. It was actually nice to speak to someone who was polite.”
Medina said the process from automated greeting to live operator and questionnaire completion took less than ten minutes, allowing him to get back to his regular schedule.
“For someone who’s been on the Kern Complete Count Committee for the two years of its existence, this also gave me opportunity to test things out. Is this really going to work like they say it is? Can I actually call to fill out my Census form over the phone?”
Adding that with the current climate of social distancing keeping some people isolated without regular human interaction, this phone call may also offer some welcome relief.
“If you want a little interaction with another human being in a socially safe manner, use the number on your Census form with your individual code and call someone friendly to fill out your questionnaire over the phone. I felt like I did my part and it made me feel good. I even shared it on Facebook,” said Medina.
If you haven’t received your Census form by mail, you can still call to complete your questionnaire by phone at 1-844-330-2020.
Kern Sol News is a youth-led journalism organization in Kern County. In their stories, reporters shine light on health and racial disparities in under-served communities across Kern. For more stories by South Kern Sol, head to southkernsol.org.