North country reports low response rates as 2020 Census deadline looms

Updated: Sep. 1, 2020 at 1:30 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - There’s only one month left to respond to the 2020 Census and plenty of people in the north country still haven’t done that. Low response rates can lead to fewer dollars in federal funding.

If you want to know how challenging it is to get people to respond to the census, consider this: in Jefferson County, the town of Pamelia is leading the way, but it’s response rate is 65 percent.

In other parts of the county, the response rate is much lower. For example, the town of Worth has a 22 percent response rate.

Communities like the towns of Alexandria, Cape Vincent and Henderson are about 30 percent.

“A major fact in that is the fact that there are many seasonal homes, cottages, camps along the shoreline,” said Michael Bourcy, Jefferson County Department of Planning director.

Bourcy says even if you don’t live in your cottage or summer home year-round, those residences should be reported.

“They should complete that and then put 0 down for the number of people living in that house. That way that housing unit gets counted for a response rate,” he said.

St. Lawrence County is also below the state average for census reporting.

So why is the census important? The county planning board says every person who is counted in the census yields more than $2,000 in federal and state funding for local programs.

Plus the census helps shape how people are represented at the federal level.

“We won’t have a fair and accurate count and there won’t be anything anyone can do about it. We will be ruled by the next 10 years by the numbers that we get. So, please, please, please call the census bureau, go online and get your census done,” said John Tenbusch, St. Lawrence County Planning Department.

As for Lewis County, its current response rate is 43 percent so there is more work to be done there as well.

Officials say they will try to educate residents over the next few weeks to try to get more people to respond before the September 30 deadline.

Copyright 2020 WWNY. All rights reserved.