Almost two-thirds of Montgomery County households have filled out the 2020 census, according to federal data, as census workers sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic return to work.
A committee of local stakeholders had begun raising awareness of the national headcount before Hoosiers were ordered to stay home to limit the spread of the coronavirus. For the first time, the census can be taken online.
The county’s total rate of households completing the survey online, by mail or by phone was 63.8% as of Thursday, according to the Census Bureau’s self-response database, representing about 9,700 residences.
That’s better than the total national rate of 60.3%, or 89.2 million households, but lower than the state’s overall rate of 65.1% or 2 million residences. The county’s total self-response rate was 69.5% in 2010.
This year, 49.1% of county households have answered the census online, compared to 50.2% for Indiana and 48.6% for the nation.
“Those numbers are running ahead of projections. I think everybody is pleased about where we are in terms of online response,” said Tim Swarens, media specialist for Chicago’s regional census center. He added that more work needed done to increase the rates.
The south central portion of the county has seen the highest response rate so far, according to the Census Bureau.
After field operations were halted by the coronavirus, all Indiana census offices reopened in mid-May. Field staff began dropping off census questionnaires at households that don’t receive mail at their physical address.
More than 790 Montgomery County residences will receive paper questionnaires this year, according to the Census Bureau.
Due to the pandemic, the self-response period was extended to Oct. 31. Census workers plan to follow up with non-responding households beginning in mid-August.
The Census Bureau will now deliver each state’s population total to the president by April 30 instead of Dec. 31. The population totals determine a state’s number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Indiana currently has nine Congressional districts. Based on head counts from the 2010 census, Montgomery County’s district was extended north and west to the Illinois state line and no longer included the eastern Indianapolis suburbs.
Funding for federal programs is also tied to an accurate population count.
Based on census data, Indiana received more than $17.9 billion from the largest federal spending programs for fiscal year 2016, according to the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University.
To complete the census, visit www.2020census.gov or call 844-330-2020.