U.S. Census Bureau workers nationwide have entered the beginning stages of the 2020 Census canvassing process.
Through October, Wyoming County residents may see canvassers verifying home addresses for Census mailings set to go out mid-March.
“That’s the beginning of the process being undertaken in the next three months,” said Michael Burger, a partnership specialist with the Philadelphia Regional Census Center. “What people will receive in March next year is the official U.S. Census for 2020 via the post office, a perforated letter. Inside that letter are directions on how to complete the Census and modes to complete the Census.”
Households can complete the Census traditionally by filling in a hard copy and mailing it back to the Census Bureau, but the Census can also be completed over the phone or online.
In 2010, Wyoming County experienced low response scores, according to Burger.
Tract 4004, the center of Wyoming County, had 16.7 percent of residents not respond.
“The census tract indicates either a localized township or municipality,” Burger explained.
The remainder of Wyoming County had the following no response rates: Laceyville and Meshoppen (Tract 4001): 22 percent; Forkston, Mehoopany, Washington and North Branch Townships (Tract 4002): 18.4 percent.; Nicholson and Factoryville (Tract 4003): 18.9 percent; Lake Winola (Tract 4005): 16.7 percent; Eaton Township (Tract 4006): 17.5 percent; and Monroe and Noxen Townships (Tract 4007): 17.5 percent.
The Census has three basic goals: counting populations, apportioning representation in the House of Representatives and allocating federal funds.
Pennsylvania’s representation in the House is apportioned based on its population size. The state lost its 19th seat in the House following the 2010 Census and remains on track to lose at least one more in 2020.
Census data also determines how $675 billion of federal funds are allocated across the country.
From Burger’s point-of-view, it’s important for communities to understand that filling out the Census is in their vested interest.
“The importance of the Census transcends counties, municipal governments, school districts,” he said. “Every organization, every layer of government and services get funding at some point through the district process, and the more accurate the Census count is, the better the funds are going to be allocated equitably.” Ideally, households will complete the Census within one to weeks of receiving it, finishing by Census Day on April 1, 2020.
“If folks do not complete the Census, then their addresses will be sent over to enumerators,” he said.
Enumerators knock on doors of households that aren’t documented as having completed the Census and ask residents to fill it out.
“That’s what everyone wants to avoid because we all have busy schedules,” Burger said. “The idea and goal of adding telephone and internet availability ought to alleviate those fears of low response scores and encourage people to do it as easy as they possibly can.”
The U.S. Census Bureau looks to hire 342 temporary workers in Wyoming County and 530 in Susquehanna County for the 2020 Census process.
Anyone interested in applying must fill out an online application, followed by a phone interview and background check.
To apply or find more information, visit 2020census.gov/jobs.
Wyoming County Commissioner Judy Mead said the commissioners have not been notified of how responses in the 2010 Census may have impacted the county’s finances, but she hopes local residents will take part in the canvassing process.
Mead also noted that the county appealed its 2010 Census findings out of concern that its figures weren’t accurate, but the appeal was rejected.