More than half of Warren County’s residents still have not completed the 2020 Census as the local response rate stands at 41.3 percent as of May 16.

The response rate is up from 36 percent in late April. However, 55.7 percent of North Carolinians and 59.5 percent of people across the country had completed the census as of May 16, according to data released by U.S. Census Bureau Atlanta Regional Director George Gandy, Jr.

According to Gandy, Warren County ranked 84th out of North Carolina’s 100 counties in its response rate. The county with the highest response rate as of mid-May was Union, at 67.4 percent. Avery County had the lowest response rate, at 22.7 percent.

The U.S. Census Bureau indicates that data collected on the Census, which is conducted every 10 years, has implications at the local, state and federal levels. For example, the response rate determines how billions of funding dollars will be allocated over the course of the next decade.

Angelena Keaney-Dunlap, chairwoman of the Warren County Census Complete Count Committee, told the newspaper that Warren County stands to receive $1,623 per person in federal funding and $200 per person in state funding each year over the next decade for each resident counted here. Put another way, for every 100 residents not counted in the Census, Warren County stands to lose $1.8 million in federal and state funding over the next 10 years. 

She said that local residents who have not completed the Census should have received a postcard reminding them to fill out the questionnaire. However, Kearney-Dunlap urged anyone who has not completed the Census to do so even if they did not receive a postcard.

The Census may be completed online by going to the website my2020census.gov, by calling 1-844-330-2020 between 7 a.m. and 2 a.m. Eastern time, or by returning the paper questionnaire by mail. 

Last week, Census workers resumed the process of delivering questionnaire packets to the homes of people who live in areas where most households do not receive their mail at their physical address. According to the Census Bureau, this work began on March 15, but was suspended soon afterward due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Local residents who receive Census packets may respond online or by phone using the Census ID number in the packet, or they may return the paper form in the mail.

The 2020 Census asks the following: how many people live in one’s house, apartment or mobile home on April 1, 2020; if additional people are staying at the residence who were not included in the response to the first question; if the home is owned with a mortgage, rented or occupied without rent payment; specific information about each person living in the residence: name, sex, age and date of birth, whether the person is of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin, and race; if each person in the residence usually lives there and each person’s relationship to the one filling out the questionnaire. Respondents will be asked to provide their phone number, but the Census specifies that it will be used only for contact on official Census Bureau business.

The Census Bureau notes that funding allocations based upon public response will have an impact on programs and services that include Medicaid, Head Start, block grants for community mental health services, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, school lunches, highway construction, education, hospitals and fire departments.

Census workers will visit households that have not completed the 2020 questionnaire from May 28-Aug. 14.

For more information about the 2020 Census and how to respond, visit 2020census.gov.