In times of crisis, remember the census

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ARENAC COUNTY— With all the concentration on the COVID-19 global pandemic, it is easy to forget about filling out the 2020 census. 

As of May 4, the national self-response rate for the census is 56.3%, Michigan’s rate is 63.1% and Arenac County’s rate is at 48%. These numbers are updated daily on the census response rate web page.

The purpose of the census is to provide a count of residents in the area to determine the amount of federal funding distributed to the community. This includes funding for programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and WIC, as well as, funding for school lunches, hospitals, fire departments, highways, housing, foster care, emergency services, and more. This is imperative funding used to benefit the community.

According to the official census website, “the census provides critical data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and many others use to provide daily services, products, and support for you and your community.”

The results of the census also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives and are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.

The census asks nine easy questions about the household and is bound by law to protect the answers and keep them confidential. 

Questions include:

  • How many people were living in this household on April 1? This includes people who live in that residence most of the time, such as college students or those who spend part of the year in Florida. This helps get the count of the population.

  • Are there any additional people that were not included in question one? According to the website, this includes children, related or unrelated such as newborn babies, grandchildren, or foster children; relatives, such as adult children, cousins, or in-laws; nonrelatives, such as roommates or live-in babysitters, and people staying here temporarily.

  • Is this a house, apartment, or mobile home owned by you or someone in this household with a mortgage or loan? This helps produce statistics about home ownership and renting.

  • What is your telephone number? This is in case there is a need to follow up about the census form.

  • What is person one’s name? The form will ask to list all people living in the household.

  • What is person one’s sex? This helps develop gender statistics which can be used in planning and funding government programs.

  • What is person one’s age and date of birth? This helps configure data to understand different age groups.

  • Is person one Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin? This helps create statistics about this ethnic group and monitor compliance with anti-discrimination provisions.

  • What is person one’s race? This helps create statistics about race and to analyze other statistics within racial groups. 

The person specific questions will be answered for other members of the residency as well.

Due to the current pandemic crisis, the planned time frame to receive self-responses (online, phone, and mailed-in) was scheduled to end July 31, however, it has been extended to October 31 to allow residents more time.

According to Au Gres City Manager Dale Wiltse, the easiest way to respond to the census is by completing the form and sending it in. If a residency did not receive a form in the mail, they can call the census number 844-330-2020 to complete by phone. 

Census forms may also be answered online. Computers at the Au Gres City Hall and libraries will be available for use to complete surveys.

In this area, every person who completes the census brings in approximately $1,800 a year to help with funding their community for the next 10 years. Within rural communities such as those in Arenac County, each person will make a big impact in the funding the community receives. 

For more information on the census or to complete the survey online, visit 2020census.gov.

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