Ashley County below national average in rate of census response

 With one week left before the 2020 decennial U.S. Census efforts wrap up, only approximately 53.9 percent of Ashley County households have responded to the census.

The official count of every person living in the United States is Constitutionally mandated every 10 years. The 2020 census, which was initially disrupted by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, is set to finish collection efforts on Sept. 30. 

Census forms were sent in the mail, it can be completed online, and workers are knocking on doors to gather information from households that did not respond. Additionally, public kiosks — including at the Crossett City Hall and the Crossett Public Library — offer residents a chance to complete their form.

Crossett Mayor Crystal Marshall urged anyone who has not completed the census thus far to do so. In addition to using the census data for demographic purposes, federal, state and local governments use the census to determine the amount of funding for projects and how to prioritize those projects. 

“There is nothing greater that you as a citizen can do at this moment to help your own future than to complete the Census,” Marshall said. “You are paying these tax dollars anyway. For them to be a benefit for your community and your life, for you to be counted, that is the only way for your tax dollars to be used in your community.”

Marshall said that for each person counted in the census, $33,000 in funding is directed to the community over the next 10 years.

“This data is collected to determine which highways are worked on,” she said. “Your schools make decisions based on census. So many different layers of our society use this data to make decisions. When business and industry are looking to locate, they use census data.

“It is the most important data we compile as a country. It is for no other purpose than to see where the funds go, where the highways go.”

The statewide response rate for the census is at 60.2 percent.

In Crossett, the number of respondents is lower than the state average but higher than the county at 59.7 percent.

In the census tract that encompasses Hamburg, the response rate is at 55.4 percent, while in the Snyder, Portland and Montrose tract the self-response rate is at 43.3 percent.

The tract that includes Parkdale and Wilmot is at 44.9 percent response, and the tract that encompasses Fountain Hill is at 53.5.

The U.S.  Census Bureau reported last week that nationwide 92 percent of households had been counted

The Census Bureau began an effort Tuesday to count people who may not have a physical address or who live in a congregate setting such as a nursing home.

“The Census Bureau is committed to counting everyone once, only once, and in the right place,” said Dr. Steven Dillingham, director of the Census Bureau. “To reach everyone living in the United States, our census takers are conducting special operations to count people experiencing homelessness to ensure we have a complete and accurate 2020 count.”

In a separate effort, the bureau is also looking to count people living in RV Parks, campgrounds, marinas and temporary housing. That effort will continue through Sept. 28.

“Census takers can be easily identified by a valid government ID badge with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date on the badge,” a news release from the bureau said. 

“They will ask respondents their name, age, date of birth, sex, race, who else lives with them, and whether there’s another place they stay or live most of the time. If families have a more permanent home elsewhere, the U.S. Census Bureau considers the place they spend most of their time to be their address.”

For a full list of the questions on the census, visit 2020census.gov/en/about-questions.html.

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