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Most of northern Illinois is responding to the 2020 Census at a higher rate than state average

Much of northern Illinois’ response rate to the 2020 Census is above the state average, according to a statewide census response tracker which keeps tabs on percentage of households who have responded by state, county and city.

In the lead according to the most recent available data from April 13 is Kendall County at 63.7%, followed closely by McHenry County at 63.3%. Cook County lags among northern counties with a 48% response rate. Monroe County, with a population size according to the 2010 census of about 32,000, leads the state with a 64.6% response rate, while only 14% have responded in Hardin County, also in southern Illinois, home to just about 4,300 in 2010.

DeKalb County’s response rate of 57% is also above the state average (53%), along with Lake County at 58%, Kane, Ogle, Will and Boone at 59%, Grundy at 56.6%, Stephenson at 57.%, Lee at 54.8% and Whiteside at 56.2%. Carroll County is lagging slightly behind the state average, at 52.5%.

Jason Blumenthal, management analyst with the City of DeKalb who’s been helping census awareness efforts to ensure citywide services receive the funding they need from an accurate population count said the COVID-19 pandemic has everyone working on the census on edge.

“I’ll be honest, am I nervous? Yes, I am very nervous,” Blumenthal said. “I don’t like the idea of all this panic and worry. But it’s also provided the point of how services are determined by census bureaus. Hospitals will be able to use these numbers, and other government agencies, for federal funding.”

On Tuesday, the deadline for Illinoisans to participate in the 2020 census was extended to Oct. 31, according to an announcement from the U.S. Census Bureau, citing the COVID-19 outbreak, which has also caused field data collection to be temporarily suspended.

As of Tuesday, over 70 million households in the country have responded, representing over 48% of all households in America, according to the census bureau.

Sherrie Taylor, senior research specialist at Northern Illinois University’s Center for Governmental Studies and interim lead of the State Data Center Network in Illinois, said Illinois had already staffed their census offices fully prior to the coronavirus crisis, and she isn’t aware of any changes beyond the suspension of follow-up field collection.

“I don’t think any actions have been taken since nobody knows how this will play out,” Taylor said. “Illinois already met their needed hires before all of this started and while I’m sure there could be a few that have changed their minds, most are probably waiting to see.”

Assessing the nation’s population every decade is a U.S. constitutional mandate, and making sure everyone is counted, citizen or not, will ensure municipalities across the region have adequate funding and representation for the next decade.

Many grants are given out on a per capita basis, meaning they’re allotted based on population size, Blumenthal said. Health and human services grant funding for nonprofits, motor fuel and sales tax revenue, road repairs and transit program funding are just a few of the ways DeKalb County benefits from federal money that is disbursed per capita.

Illinois also is expected to lose at least one congressional seat because of a statewide population decline

This is the first census to include digital response forms, and the push for virtual data collection means that door-to-door census workers wouldn’t have been sent out into the field until May anyway. With a public health crisis, that in-person collection has been moved to the fall, reinvigorating a push for people to fill out their form online.

“We’re trending as a state above the middle of the pack,” Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal said while the response rate numbers look promising so far, it’s still a ways to go before a complete and accurate count of the county, and state, is done, and the pandemic has already pushed back deadlines.

“This week, the paper-based forms should be appearing in mailboxes of those households that have yet to respond online,” Taylor said. “That will certainly help, especially in those areas that have limited Internet capability and will only receive the paper-based copy.”

Topping the entire state is Trout Valley, a community of 537 people in McHenry County, with a rate of 81.6%. The unincorporated community of Muddy, which has 78 people in Saline County, has completely ignored the census, having zero people respond. The median income of Trout Valley is $99,297, while the median income is $24,375 in Muddy.

Census forms can be completed online, by phone or by mail when your invitation arrives. Go to my2020census.gov to complete.

Shaw Media’s Derek Barichello contributed to this report.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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