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Northwest Ohio possibly falling behind in census count

Published: Oct. 5, 2020 at 12:25 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The 2020 Census deadline continues to fluctuate, adding to the confusion of a year marked by unprecedented events. Earlier this year, the Census Bureau announced it would stop the count on September 30, a month earlier than originally planned. A federal judge overruled that decision, ordering the bureau to keep the deadline set at the end of October. The Bureau then set the deadline for Monday, October 5. Last week, that same judge issued another ruling, ordering the bureau once again to honor her initial ruling and continue the count until October 31.

Regardless of the deadline, it’s safe to say if you haven’t filled out the annual survey, you should do it soon. This population count determines how much federal tax money is given to communities for things like roads and schools. It also determines the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that nearly 99% of all Americans have been counted, but our area’s rate may not be as robust.

According to the Bureau’s data, about two-thirds of Lucas County Households self-responded, which trends with the natural average. However, the numbers diverge when broken down into smaller regions. For example, within the city of Toledo, that number falls to 60%.

If a household doesn’t self-report, residents are supposed to follow-up with a census worker. In the entire Northwest Ohio Region, only 94% of households required to follow-up actually did so. That’s opposed to most area offices across the country, which have follow-up rates of at least 97%. Just that difference puts our region in the bottom third nationwide for completing those follow-up counts.

The coordinator of the Toledo office, Deborah Barnett, says the biggest gap in counting is in those without internet access. But there are other ways to take the census.

" All year long we have been stressing the fact that it’s never been easier to respond to the 2020 census. The questions are simple, and then you can go right online, or you can call in and they will take your responses," says Barnett.

Ottawa County had the lowest self-response rate in the state at around 50%.

If you still need to take the census and want to fill it out in person, you can visit your local library or stop by the TARTA hub in downtown Toledo on Monday from11:30 - 4:30. You can also fill out the online form here.

You can explore the Census Bureau’s data for yourself here.

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