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Coming to a close: U.S. Census response rates to determine federal funding for next decade

By Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff | Sep 18, 2020


SHEPHERDSTOWN — The end of this month will also mark the end to the 2020 U.S. Census, which is a constitutionally mandated count of every person living in the country.

To encourage local residents to participate in the census, the Corporation of Shepherdstown is mailing out reminders to town residents. The mail-out decision was made during the town council meeting in the War Memorial Building on Sept. 8.

“We’ve got to do something about the census,” Mayor Jim Auxer said during the meeting. “We need people to do the census. You can even do it online!”

According to Auxer, federal monetary distribution for the town, county and state is determined by the number of people who participate in the census in each area. The next census will be held in 2030.

“[Funding] comes to about $1,800 per person per year, in terms of grants,” Auxer said, referring to funding related to the U.S. Census.

Auxer did mention that a greater percentage of Jefferson County’s residents have taken the census than in the state’s other counties. As of press time, Jefferson County’s self-response census involvement was at 72.8 percent. Following on its heels was Wood County, at 70.1 percent, and Berkeley County, at 70 percent. Shepherdstown’s response rate, at 61.1 percent participation, lagged behind that of almost all of the county’s other municipalities. Charles Town, at 74.6, led in the highest response rates, followed by Ranson, at 68.6 percent, and Bolivar, at 65.8 percent. Harpers Ferry fell in last place, at 52.4 percent.

Auxer said he would like to see 100 percent census participation from Shepherdstown’s residents, to ensure the town, county and state would get the greatest possible benefit from the census. After participating in the census, Auxer encouraged community members to keep tabs on its progress online. The state, county and municipality response rates are updated daily, at https://2020census.gov/en/response-rates.html.

The original date for the ending of the 2020 U.S. Census was July 31. However, in April, the U.S. Census Bureau announced its decision to postpone the ending date, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. After initially announcing the new deadline to be Oct. 31, at the beginning of August, the U.S. Census Bureau moved the deadline back one month, according to an Aug. 3 press release by U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham.

Along with responding to the census online, at 2020census.gov or my2020census.gov, people can also respond to the census by mail or by calling 1-844-330-2020 between 7 a.m. and 2 a.m. Mail your completed paper questionnaires to U.S. Census Bureau, National Processing Center, 1201 E. 10th St., Jeffersonville, IN 47132. Paper questionnaires can be printed off from the bureau’s website, www.census.gov. The Shepherdstown Public Library (304-876-2783) is able to print off questionnaire copies, and Auxer indicated Town Hall (304-876-2312) will also have printed copies available for pickup.