2020 Census response rate will impact Cape Fear region’s federal funding, political representation

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The U.S. Census is taking place right now and some areas have had a higher response rate than others.

The Census counts every person in the United States and five U.S. territories. As of May 18, the national response rate was 59.5 percent.

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North Carolina’s response rate was slightly lower at 55.7 percent with 44.1 percent completing the census online.

In the Cape Fear region alone, New Hanover County is leading with a response rate of 56 percent followed by Pender County (50.2 percent), Brunswick County (47.9 percent), Columbus County (46.4 percent) and Bladen County (41.2 percent).

“The Census Bureau has been sending out information since mid-March to all the households in America, so right now we’re about tied now for 67th of the 100 counties in North Carolina,” said Brunswick County Public Information Officer Meagan Kascsak.

If you think the Census doesn’t impact you, think again.

“The Census is a constitutionally-required event and it’s really important for us all to participate because all the information we collect is going to help our elected officials in our communities in the next 10 years,” Kascsak said.

That information will determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding are allocated to more than 100 programs, including Medicaid, Head Start, school lunch programs, block grants for community mental health services, highway planning and construction, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The information is also important for economic development and business recruitment purposes, too. It can also help a region prepare for a natural disaster.

“It’s also important to know how many people are living in a community for emergency situations so we know how many people might be impacted when a hurricane is coming to a section or region of the country,” Kascsak said.

The Census also determines congressional representation and the drawing of congressional and state legislature districts. North Carolina is anticipated to gain another seat in the U.S. House of Representatives based on the 2020 Census count.

The Census is a quick, simple questionnaire about yourself and anyone living with you as of April 1, 2020. The questions include how many people live in a house, mobile home, or apartment and their relation to you; whether you own, rent, or occupy without rent; a person’s age and date of birth; sex; race and ethnicity; and telephone number if the Census Bureau has questions about your census form.
It’s important to count everyone, including children, stepchildren, foster children, roommates, partners, etc. There are no questions about citizenship.
You can complete the Census online, by mail or over the phone. The self-response rate through any of these three means has been extended through Oct. 31.
If you don’t complete it on your own, Census takers will make three attempts to visit your home to count in person. They will also try to connect with neighbors afterward to see how many people live in a home.
If you’re concerned about security, the Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the U.S. Code to keep your information confidential. A violation of this is a federal crime which is punishable by prison time and/or a fine of up to $250,000.
During the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau will never ask you for your Social Security number, money or donations, anything on behalf of a political party, and your bank or credit card account numbers.
For more details about the 2020 Census, check out the following links: