Rural Communities Urge Census Response After End of Counting Operations Moved Up

A big change was just announced by the U.S. Census.

They’re cutting their counting operation down by a month.

The census announced Monday they’ll end all field collecting along with self and online responses at the end of September, instead of October.

They say they’ve added employees to speed up counting, but there’s concern some areas could still be under counted.

With census counting operations shrinking by a month, the executive director of the 2020 Michigan Census says there’s added pressure to count everyone across the state, especially in rural areas.

“Folks that tend to be under counted in a census are those that rent their property, that may not have internet access because 2020 is our first internet or online census form. If you look at some of the counties we have in the Upper Peninsula or Northern lower they are those that are far behind the rest of the state,” said Kerry Ebersole Singh, Executive Director of the Michigan 2020 Census.

And under counting those areas means underfunding with money tied directly to census numbers. Money that’s critical for places like Missaukee County.

“The census is extremely important to communities like Missaukee County because so many federal and even state programs are based on your count, the number of people that reside in your corporate district. So an accurate count, making sure everyone is counted is essential to supporting programs in the county,” said County Administrator Precia Garland.

School funding is also tied to the census. The Chippewa Hills School District says about a million dollars in yearly funding to support at risk students comes from the areas census count. Superintendent Doctor Bob Grover says that’s why responding is critical.

“So it’s very important that we have an accurate number of what our real population is for school aged students so that when they figure out percentage for economically disadvantage, we get an appropriate amount for our Title funding,” said Grover.

Governor Whitmer issued a statement Tuesday that reads in part: “Cutting short operations by a month will seriously impact the ability of the US Census Bureau to deliver an accurate and complete count, and in turn hurt American families everywhere.”

Michigan currently has a self-response rate of just under 69 percent.

That’s roughly 10 percent higher than its 2010 self-response rate.