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Hawaii Lags Behind National Average in Responding to 2020 Census

Ryan Finnerty
Two rounds of invitations to complete the 2020 Census online have been sent to households across the country.

Just under half of all households nationwide have responded to the decadal survey of the U.S. population. Fewer than 40% of Hawaii residences have answered.

The 2020 count is noteworthy for being the first one in history to be primarily filled out online, although paper and phone options will also be available.

Multiple reminders have already been sent to every household in large white envelopes that say “Your Response is Required By Law.” 

Responding only takes about 10 minutes and it is not being affected by the pandemic. But the Census Bureau says the coronavirus is having an impact on the aspects of the count that necessitate face to face interaction

“We’ve actually suspended all of our field operations at this time, but that hasn’t affected the ability of folks to respond themselves directly to the Census,” said Ali Ahmad with the Census Bureau.

For every census, the federal government typically hires thousands of people to physically knock on doors and get a tally of residents who do not respond to the survey by mail.

That is especially needed for hard to count groups like the homeless and extremely rural communities.

Ahmad says, those efforts will be rescheduled once health and safety concerns over Covid-19 can be addressed.

Disruptions related to the pandemic have created confusion about where recently displaced people like college students should be counted. Ahamd has a simple rule to remember.

“They need to count everybody where they would have normally been on April 1st.”

The Census Bureau put together a user guide for how to count special populations like those without a permanent address, service members, and people who are moving.

The website also tracks the response rate of communities across the country. The Center for Urban Research at the City University of New York also maintains a map with even more granular data on response rates.

So far, 46% of Americans have responded nationwide, compared to 39% of Hawaii residents.

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