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UP lagging, at risk for undercount in Census’ 2020 tally

Advertising that the U.S. Census Bureau will use in its outreach campaign for the 2020 Census is displayed at the Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington. This year’s census includes major differences, such as the option to reply by phone or by going online. (AP photo)

IRON MOUNTAIN – Dickinson County’s response rate to the 2020 Census is the best in the Upper Peninsula but still more than 10 percentage points behind its 2010 response rate, officials said Wednesday.

“The U.P. is highly at risk of being undercounted,” said Kerry Ebersole Singh, director of the Michigan 2020 Census.

All counties in the U.P. — except Marquette — are more than 10 percentage points behind their 2010 self-response rates. The counties of Alger, Keweenaw and Ontonagon have the most ground to make up.

Of the 15 counties in the Upper Peninsula, only three have crossed the 50% “Be Counted” threshold: Dickinson, at 56.2%; Marquette, 54.6%; and Delta, 52.9%.

Iron County shows a response rate so far of just 39.7%, compared with a 2010 self-response rate of 50.5%. Dickinson County’s self-response rate came in at 66.1% in 2010.

The current rate statewide is 60.1%.

More than 4.3 million Michigan residents are estimated to be hard to count or less likely to complete the 2020 census, as measured by federal data on expected response rates. In 2010, 78% of the state’s population completed the census. The Michigan 2020 Census campaign’s goal is 82% participation statewide.

A 2020 Michigan “Be Counted” U.P. Virtual Town Hall will take place from 4 to 5 p.m. Eastern time today, featuring Singh and a number of other census advocates, including state Rep. Gregory Markkanen, R-Hancock; Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II; and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

The event will highlight the convenience of completing the census and the important benefits it brings to communities. More information can be found at https://www.facebook.com/MiCensus/.

Each decade, the U.S. Census strives to count every person living in the United States. Among other things, the census helps determine how much federal funding each state will receive for essential services that affect local communities.

The 2020 Census can be completed by mail, by phone and — for the first time — online. Officials emphasize the census is confidential.

Because the census is critical in the distribution of billions in federal dollars, anyone who spends at least 50% of their time in Michigan should be counted as living in Michigan, according to state officials.

To help make sure everyone is counted, census takers from May 27 to Aug. 14 will go door-to-door to interview people at addresses that haven’t responded. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, operations will be adjusted as necessary to follow the guidance of federal, state and local health authorities. Census takers are Census Bureau employees and will provide proof that they are official government personnel.

More information is available at https://www.michigan.gov/census2020/ or by calling 1-800-923-8282 or 1-844-330-2020.

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