NEW ORLEANS, La. – Tell the truth: have you been ignoring all the forms you’ve received in the mail from the U.S. Census Bureau?
Every 10 years, the government gathers population data to determine how to distribute funding for more than 140 different programs including foster care, community health centers and aid for senior citizens.
During the 2010 Census, Louisiana was in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which made it especially challenging to get accurate numbers.
Now the world is coping with COVID-19, which is causing delays for the 2020 count.
WGNO’s Stephanie Oswald spoke with Marilyn Stephens, the assistant regional manager for the Atlanta region. Stephens helps manage the numbers for seven states, including Louisiana.
“The original timeline for self-response for the census was March 12 – thru July 31st, because of the pandemic it has now been extended through October. However, we want households to complete this census now!” says Stephens.
Current numbers reveal good news and bad news regarding Louisiana’s response rate for the 2020 Census.
“Nationally we’re about at 59 percent. The state of Louisiana, New Orleans and Orleans parish is lower than that. However, when you take a closer look at the response rates, they are much higher at this point than they were in the 2010 census,” explains Stephens.
She credits New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell with making the 2020 Census a priority, describing her as “relentless” in her efforts to spread the word about how important it is.
With 53 percent of households responding so far, Louisiana currently ranks 43rd out of 52 — including all the states, plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.
You have three options: go online to my2020census.gov, speak with a U.S. Census Bureau representative at 1-844-330-2020, or send in your response via mail.
After all, there’s 675 billion dollars worth of aid at stake.
Stephens says that the number one reason people don’t respond is fear of privacy invasion. But she says, don’t worry: “No one can get census data, no agency, no law enforcement, no CIA, no FBI, no IRS, no ICE, no immigration and no police.”
So fill out the form to help form Louisiana’s future. And when you do, be sure to include everyone in the family, kids too!