Mass. census response rate above average

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (SHNS) – Wednesday marks Census Day across the United States, a day typically marked by public events encouraging residents to fill out their Census forms and ensure their place in a count.

With Massachusetts under a stay-at-home advisory for the rest of the month — and similar precautions in place in other states to help slow the spread of the coronavirus — the state’s Census overseer is recommending cities and towns get creative in how they reach their residents remotely.

Of the six New England states, Massachusetts has the highest percentage of households that have already responded to the U.S. Census via the internet, mail or telephone.

Almost 40 percent of Massachusetts households — 38.3 percent to be exact — have already responded to the 2020 count of the citizenry, according to a map the Census Bureau published of the self-response rates from all 50 states.

Several communities, including North Adams, Brockton and Westwood, plan to make reverse-911 calls to households, asking them to respond online to the Census, according to Secretary of State William Galvin’s office.

“Every person who responds to their census now is helping to reduce the need for a census worker to go door-to-door later,” Galvin said in a statement.

Census counts are used to determine how much federal aid states receive, and Galvin said the current situation around the coronavirus “reinforces the significance of making sure Massachusetts gets its fair share of federal resources for things like public health programs and hospitals.”

Census field work has been put on hold until at least April 15. The Census Bureau is accepting responses online, via the mail and by phone in multiple languages.

During the 2010 Census, 68.8 percent of Massachusetts households responded via mail, telephone or internet.

Earlier this month, Galvin said he hoped people who are now working from home might use that time to respond to the Census online.

“I must confess to you that in the beginning of this process and actually for a long time I’ve been somewhat skeptical of what the response rate would be online. But in light of the coronavirus situation, online might be a very important part of our response,” Galvin told reporters to highlight the start of the 2020 Census.

The Massachusetts Statewide Complete Count Committee plans to hold an online event at 7 p.m. Wednesday to emphasize the need to be counted.

“It is crucial that every resident of Massachusetts be counted,” Eva Millona, committee chair and executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, said in a statement. “The COVID-19 crisis has made us keenly aware of the gaps in our infrastructure and the impact of inequities. We’re adapting and innovating to keep reaching out to undercounted communities, and we urge everyone who hasn’t responded yet to do so today.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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