OGDEN — Response rates to the U.S. Census Bureau head count in central Ogden are among the lowest in the urbanized areas along the Wasatch Front, according to the latest data on the effort.
That’s got those promoting the initiative locally redoubling their efforts to get the word out, at the same time they’re stymied by coronavirus concerns and calls by health officials to limit face-to-face interactions.
“The census is a representation of the makeup of our community,” said Teresa Martinez, an employee at Weber State University who’s helping get the word out among students and staff at the college. “Without you being counted, we lose out on the representation and get less funding.”
The census is taken every 10 years and the final figures are key in determining how certain federal funds are distributed, among other things. Accordingly, if those living in a certain locale don’t respond, the final population figures won’t fully represent the number who actually live there, potentially shortchanging the community in the federal aid it gets.
According to U.S. Census Bureau data released Friday, 47.9% of Utah households had responded to the census questionnaire as of Thursday. That’s the seventh-highest rate among the 50 U.S. states and higher than the national response rate of 42.8%.
The formal 2020 head count started in March with the mailing of notices to each household across the country. Most responses thus far have been completed online.
In Weber County, the response rate was 48.6%, while in neighboring Davis County the figure was 58.8%, highest among Utah’s 29 counties and tied for 14th among all counties nationwide.
In Ogden, the response rate was 42.6%, 114th among the 242 Utah locales identified. But within Ogden, the response rate measured only 26% to 26.9% in the area bounded roughly by Monroe Boulevard to the east, the Ogden River to the north, the Weber River to the west and 27th Street to the south. Gauging by a Census Bureau heat map, that made the response rate in the area among the lowest along the Wasatch Front, comparable to a handful of pockets in the Salt Lake City area.
Viviana Felix, diversity affairs coordinator for the city of Ogden and also part of the team promoting census participation in the city, said census boosters had been planning a series of live events to encourage higher involvement. With coronavirus, though, those activities — at the Main Library in Ogden and elsewhere — had to be canceled. Instead, the boosters included fliers promoting involvement in Catholic Community Services of Northern Utah food packages recently sent out to those in need, Felix said. Moreover, they’re investigating and implementing alternate means, chiefly through use of social media, videos and more.
“We’re working through it,” she said.
The deadline to complete the census count has been extended from the end of July to mid-August, Felix said, creating “a little bit more breathing room.” And she also noted that the census questionnaire can be completed online for the first time, making it easier for many to respond.
Census workers are to knock on doors later on in the process to get responses from households that don’t complete the survey.