Got nothing to do? How about taking the census if you have not already? Why should you participate in this? Good question.
Cavalier County Job Development Authority Executive Director Shannon Duerr explains, “It determines Congress seats and how more than $675 billion in funds are distributed and spent on things like roads, hospitals and clinics, schools, fire departments.”
Residents benefit from many of the services that are funded through federal distribution of funds. If you utilize hospitals, clinics, schools, and fire protection, you are benefitting. It is estimated for every person that is missed being counted, $19,000 is lost.
“So just by taking the census you are helping support these very essential services by $19,000 per person in your household. Taking the census is an excellent way to support your community, and it usually takes around 10 minutes to do,” Duerr shared.
What kinds of questions will you have to answer? Glad you asked- very simple ones relating to your household.
The first is how many people were living or staying in the house, apartment, or mobile home on April 1, 2020? This is followed by a clarification on the number of people who were staying in the residence and if you own or rent the residence and contact information. This then sets you up to answer who is living at the residence, how old they are (their birth date), and their ethnicity. And that’s it. Ready to take it? Great!
• Visit https://2020census.gov
• Click on take the census
• Click on start questionnaire
• Below the box to enter the 12 digit ID is a small link that says if you do not have a census ID, click here.
• Click on that link and follow instructions
Duerr stresses that Option 1 is the recommended way to respond to the Census as complications from COVID-19 have caused many to not receivie their mailers with the 12-digit code.
"Mailers are being sent from several different census centers and some of these are in states with stay-at-home/shutdown orders. So some packets did not get sent as each geographic area is sent a different center. For example, Langdon residents have received their survey packets unless they use a PO Box." Duerr explained. "I have heard many Munich residents did not or received mailers very late. The Census Bureau thinks the Munich mailers were likely supposed to be sent by one of the centers that shut down. So we really recommend residents to respond online without the packet."
• Call 1-844-330-2020
• Say “representative” at the menu
Have no idea what this 12 digit ID is referring to in “Option 1”? Sometime early in the year, you should have received mail from the census. One was a larger envelope that contained the paper questionnaire and a second was a business-size envelope. Didn’t get it? Duerr has a couple points on why.
“The census does not mail items to PO boxes, and due to COVID-19 they have pulled in-person visits,” Duerr said. “So many county residents who only have a PO box did not receive their packets. In addition, many residents who used to have a PO box but now don’t are still not receiving their mailings. “
Even if you haven’t received or may have accidentally thrown away the pieces of mail from the census, you are still highly encouraged to participate. In addition to the distribution of federal funds, this information is used locally for studies and planning. It lets decision makers in the community plan for several things. Some examples:
• How many infants are in the community now to estimate how many students can be tentatively planned on entering the school system when they reach school age?
• Housing studies use census data to determine increases or decreases in certain age brackets and make recommendations for housing based on that info.
“For example if you are seeing a big increase in the age brackets right out of college or high school, you may want to encourage the development of more rental housing,” Duerr explained. “If you are seeing a big increase in the senior population you may want to take a look at availability in your assisted living and long-term care facilities.”
• How many children are in the community ages 0-5 who may need full-time day care? How many children ages 5-12 who may need after-school care? Compare these numbers to how many spots you have.
“This is why our local day care grant program was developed,” Duerr shared.
• When new businesses are looking for locations, they use census data.
“I frequently get asked to provide this information to businesses looking for a new location in North Dakota. This information helps them determine if their business and the community would be a good fit,” Duerr said.
Nationally, North Dakota residents have responded well, showing a strong 32.1 percent of residents self-responding. Cavalier County residents are doing one better than the rest of the state with 33.2 percent of residents having already responded through mail, online, or phone. Because of COVID-19, the deadline for response has been extended to August of 2020.
“The census still tentatively plans to send census employees out at some point, but right now that is delayed. They are planning on address canvassing in mid-April and doing non-response follow up in May,” Duerr said. “But because the COVID-19 situation is so fluid, it is very hard to know how things will be progressing at that point - if sending out employees will even be possible. Everyone is being encouraged to take the survey by phone or online.”