Census-takers rushing to complete house calls by end of month

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer

With the end of September quickly approaching for wrapping up a once-a-decade count of households, the Census Bureau is stepping up its door-knocking effort.

A large portion of the Big Bend, including Tallahassee, is among the areas where thousands of census-takers have been calling on since mid-August. Blacks represent a high number of those who had not responded since the count started earlier this year, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

Nationwide the Bureau have about 500,000 census-takers making house calls.

The Pew study also found that four in 10 people say they won’t open their doors to census workers.  However, that’s not stopping the enumerators from making the house calls, said Marilyn Stephens, a Census Bureau assistant regional manager based in Atlanta.

“We are not going to let that household off the hook,” Stephens told the Outlook during a telephone interview. “If they go online and respond, we won’t come back. That would be the same as us coming to the door.”

In addition to going online at www.mycensus2020.gov, people who haven’t been counted could call 844 330 2020 any day of the week to answer census questions.

Marilyn Stephen, assistant regional manager with the Census Bureau.
Photo submitted

One of the biggest challenges is getting people to respond during the pandemic, Stephens said.  Census-takers who show up at homes often are asked why they are calling, she said.

As of last week, 43 percent of Tallahassee’s residents hadn’t responded to the census. Washington, Jackson and Bay counties have low response numbers, with the lowest being 45.9 percent in Bay County. Overall, Florida’s response was around 86.7 percent of the population.

House calls throughout the state have accounted for 24.2 percent of those counted. The central area of South Florida shows a low response rate, according to the Census Bureau’s tracker map. 

The Census Bureau is making the extended house calls in spite of losing a month from the deadline for completing the census. Census-taker will end their work Sept. 30 after the Bureau was unable to get a deadline extension from Congress to complete the counting on Oct. 31.

Some of the calls on homes are what the Bureau calls a random quality check to validate information it received from self-response.

 “We take a small percent of some of the people that responded by mail or online and go back and re-enumerate them to see if the information balances,” Stephens said. “That’s part of the quality check and we do a quality check on all of our operations.”

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