Census advocates: Celebrate America, be counted

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Did you know? On the first page in the 2020 census questionnaire, Question No. 1 asks: “How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment or mobile home on April 1, 2020?” If the questionnaire went to a second home or vacation home, the answer is probably zero.

An estimated 2.5 million people lived in a newly independent nation July 4, 1776.

That’s according to the “facts-for-features” stats from the U.S. Census Bureau, which is conducting the decennial census, counting the 2020 population.

For the July 4 holiday, the bureau encourages people to “reflect on how our Founding Fathers enshrined in our Constitution the importance of statistics as a vital tool for measuring our people, places and economy” and respond to their census invitations.

The decennial census is used to determine legislative representation, allocate $675 billion in federal funding every year, guide decisions about schools, housing, transportation, health care and assistance and chart changes in a community.

A local push is focused on boosting participation from Anna Maria Island, where response rates thus far are below the county, state and nation.

The national self-response to the census was 61.7% as of June 26 and the state response rate was 58.8%. Manatee County’s response rate was 55.7%, but Anna Maria’s rate was 23.4%, Bradenton Beach’s 22.8% and Holmes Beach’s 33%.

Community advocates, including the Patterson Foundation, plan to encourage participation using social media networks, especially NextDoor, as well as outreach at libraries, city halls and through home associations and nonprofits.

Meanwhile, census takers will go door to door through Oct. 31 and the census bureau will mail reminders — about 1.3 million postcards were to be sent this week in communities required to use P.O. boxes, including Anna Maria.

Key to the local outreach is educating owners of vacation properties — either second homes or rental properties, according to Neal Dollar of the Census Bureau.

Owners of multiple homes might have responded to census invitations at their permanent address in another state but disregarded an invite sent to a second home.

But the invitation to the second home needs a response to the first question, which asks, “How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment or mobile home on April 1, 2020?”

Respondents would answer zero if the property is a second home or vacation rental, and their replies improve the community response rate, inform the Census Bureau about the property and also ensure each person appears in the decennial count only once.

“It’s critical, the census,” said Hannah Saeger Karnei of the Patterson Foundation, but also easy to complete.

In less than 10 minutes, respondents can impact their community for the next 10 years.

To participate in the census, go online to my2020census.gov or call 844-330-2020.


Did you know?

The Census Act of 1790 established the concept of “usual residence,” which is the place where a person lives and sleeps most of the time.

Every census since has been based on the concept.

A “usual residence” is not always the same as a legal residence, voting residence or even the location where a person prefers to be counted.