That’s a wrap on counting people for the 2020 U.S. Census.
Data collection ended last Thursday, with that being the last day for field workers to finish their household visits and the last day for people to submit their own Census responses.
The final day had been moved several times. The Trump administration had sought to end counting in order to reach a year-end deadline for reporting the results in order to determine the new apportionment of seats in Congress. Others had pushed to keep counting, with fears that the pandemic would lead to vulnerable and minority populations being undercounted.
In the end, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that 70.6% of all Ohio housing units self-responded to the census (by phone, mail or online). Field workers spent months conducting “nonresponse followup” to get nearly all of the remaining units counted.
Ohio’s self-response rate is above the national rate of 66.8%. It is also higher than neighbors Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and about even with Indiana.
A decade ago, then-Gov. Ted Strickland and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm made a friendly wager on which state would record a higher response rate. The two declared a tie when the results came back at 75% apiece, the Associated Press reported then.
At a coronavirus press conference in April, Gov. Mike DeWine again challenged “our friends up north” to get the highest response rate. This time, Michigan came out on top — besting Ohio with a rate of 71.2% to Ohio’s 70.6%.
The Census is conducted every 10 years with important ramifications for Americans and their communities. Besides determining how many seats in Congress each state gets, the Census can impact how much federal funding a state receives for programs such as Head Start, WIC and Meals-on-Wheels.
Organizations like the Ohio Mayors Alliance and the Mayors’ Partnership for Progress have spent the year urging the importance of all Ohioans being counted.
During the summer, the Ohio Capital Journal tracked response rates in the Buckeye State and found that poorer counties had lower rates than the rest of the state. Various public officials recorded public service announcements that were broadcast and shared throughout Appalachian Ohio to improve the response rates.
The Associated Press recently reported that with data collection over, the Census Bureau is now working on processing that information through the end of this year.