Census gives Utahns last chance to respond before someone comes knocking

(Photo courtesy of U.S. Census Bureau) The Census Bureau is giving Utahns a last chance to respond to the once-a-decade census before workers are sent to their homes to seek answers beginning in August.

Utahns are being given one last chance to answer the once-every-decade census online or by phone before government workers are sent out to make in-person visits.

The U.S. Census Bureau is mailing a final postcard this week to homes that have yet to respond.

“Interviewers will begin visiting homes that have not responded in August,” the postcards say. “Respond today, and we will not need to send an interviewer to your door to collect your answers.”

It adds that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, government interviewers have had limited contact with the public — which has delayed the census by months — but that is about to change.

Census Bureau data show that 66.7% of Utahns have responded to the census so far, tenth highest among the states.

The national response rate so far is 62.5%. Minnesota has the highest response rate among the states at 71.8%, and Alaska is the lowest at 48.8%.

In Utah, two counties in the northern section part of the state are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Morgan County has the highest response rate so far at 77.3%, and Rich County is the lowest at 12.3%.

Along the Wasatch Front, the response rates are 77.2% in Davis County, 71.9% in Utah County, 69.5% in Salt Lake County and 68.1% in Weber County.

The census will determine how the federal government divides $1.5 trillion a year among the states and communities. It also helps determine how many seats each state receives in the U.S. House of Representatives, and is used to draw state and local political boundaries.

The census helps to identify such things as where to build new schools and transportation projects. It helps in efforts to enforce civil rights laws related to age, gender, race and ethnicity. Also it can identify vulnerable populations during outbreaks of disease.

The benefits are important enough that the Utah Legislature approved spending $1 million on advertising and education to help ensure that Utahns participate in the census. In comparison, California has allocated $154 million.

The Census Bureau itself is spending more than a half billion dollars this year — the most ever — to promote the census as safe, easy and beneficial to communities.