With a little over two weeks left to respond to the 2020 U.S. Census, Moore County’s self-response rate continues to lag behind the state and national averages.
As of Sept. 13, 61 percent of households in Moore County have self-responded compared to 65.7 percent nationally and 61.7 percent statewide. The deadline to complete the census was moved up earlier this summer to Sept. 30.
An accurate count is important because census data is used to determine the number of seats each state holds in Congress, and how billions in federal funds are distributed back to states and local communities every year for services and infrastructure, including health care, jobs, schools, roads and businesses.
“We have been doing a blitz for the last couple of weeks where we are focusing on the lowest responding areas first,” said Keela Reyes, a partnership specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau. “We are pounding the pavement, going into businesses, mobile home parks and apartment complexes and putting out signage and passing out information. It seems to be moving the needle.”
Reyes anticipated the Fayetteville area, which includes Moore County, will be targeted for a “blitz” approach beginning next week.
Whispering Pines continues to lead the area with the highest self-response rate at 82 percent, followed by Pinehurst (73.3 percent), Foxfire (69.4 percent), Pinebluff (70.8 percent), Southern Pines (65.3 percent) and Aberdeen (63.9 percent).
Robbins currently has the lowest self-response rate among Moore County’s municipal areas, at 37.5 percent, followed by Taylortown (48.8 percent), Cameron (50.3 percent), Vass (52.9 percent) and Carthage (55.9 percent).
Reyes noted these statistics only calculate the number of households that have responded to the census online, by phone or mail.
North Carolina’s current total response rate stands at 86.3 percent. Detailed enumeration counts are not yet available at the census tract level, but Moore County’s completion rate is between 60-85 percent, Reyes said.
“Even if some of these numbers look discouraging, we are seeing an improved response when we talk to people face-to-face. That is the big push. We are focused on those low responding census tract areas.”
She asked for cooperation and patience if a census taker knocks on your door because often they must visually verify an address. A household might be flagged for something as simple as an abbreviation, for example, Frontera Place written as Frontera Pl.
“In some cases, even if you already completed the census, if there is a discrepancy with your address the enumerators have to verify it to make sure it is correct,” Reyes said. “We don’t want duplicate responses, but we do have measures in place for handling them.”
Marissa Back, a resident of Seven Lakes West, said she was recently visited by a census taker and believes there is likely a mix up between how mailing addresses in her gated community were recorded as opposed to street addresses.
“The day I received the original census inquiry, I mailed it right back out. About two months later, I got another one in the mail asking me to fill it out, so I did. Then a young man came to my door and I told him I didn’t want to be counted three times,” Back said.
A former enumerator during the 1990 census, when she lived in Ohio, Back said she did not have similar difficulties with her address when completing the 2000 and 2010 censuses.
“I know other neighbors who have experienced the same issue. It’s kind of a storm in a teacup, but I know this can have very big ramifications,” said Back.
If you have not completed the census or if you have questions about the census, visit online at My2020Census.gov or call (844) 330-2020.