BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Around the time the coronavirus outbreak hit Louisiana, the United States Census Bureau was working to get an accurate count of people in the state. The pandemic put their work on pause and impacted the response rate.
According to the U.S Census Bureau, 54.7% of households in Louisiana responded to the 2020 Census. Marilyn Stephens, Assistant Regional Census Manager with the U.S Census Bureau says that’s a good starting point. However, the national response rate is over 60%.
Stephens says any state below the national response rate is working hard to get its community members to submit the paperwork.
Stephens says many parts of Louisiana are considered rural, so paper questionnaires must be hand-delivered. Unfortunately, the outbreak changed the way workers collected data. Just three days into handing out the paper questionnaires in March, field operations had to stop. The virus also changed the July 31 deadline, which has been extended until the end of October.
Stephens says just over a week ago, field operations continued in Louisiana so you may get a visit from the U.S. Census Bureau sometime soon. The good thing is, even if you haven’t received a paper questionnaire yet, it’s not too late to submit your family count.
Visit 2020census.gov, enter your address if you don’t have a census ID and complete the form. If you don’t have access to a computer, just call 1-844-330-2020 and speak with a representative.
The bureau says getting an accurate count of people in each parish helps properly fund programs like head start, service for seniors, veterans, reduced or free lunch for children, and highway projects. Stephens says the bureau calls this “10 minutes for 10 years of services.”
“There are more than 140 programs that these population statistics are used in funding formulas. So it’s important to all of us,” Stephens says. “These are services that we all need. Not justs for ourselves or our families, but people in our community.”
Stephens adds that if a postal worker drops off the form, take a moment to complete the questionnaire and give it right back to the postal carrier.
Census data is protected under U.S. Codes, Title 13, and Title 44. That means the bureau cannot publish anything that will identify someone that has submitted information. It can only be published in a statistical form. Stephens says census data is sealed for 72 years.
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