WABASH VALLEY, Ind. (WTHI) - A lot has been put on hold or has taken a back seat to COVID-19 since March of this year. The ever-important census count is no exception.
With COVID-19 lingering over the nation, filling out census forms may be the last thing on someone's mind.
Ryan Keller is the Executive Director of the West Central Indiana Economic Development District. He gets constant updates on the response numbers from our area. News 10 caught up with him to see how the Wabash Valley is doing responding to the census.
Keller says to date, the nationwide response rate is just more than 62%. Indiana comes in ranking above the national rate at 66.7% or a two-thirds response rate.
Clay, Putnam, and Vermillion counties are all above the national response rate with Clay County at 65.9%, Putnam County at 64%, and Vermillion County at 63.5%.
Vigo, Sullivan, and Parke counties are all below the national response rate with Vigo County at 61.5%, Sullivan County at 61%, and Parke County at 57.1%.
All six West Central Indiana counties are below Indiana's response rate. Keller says in previous census years, our areas were averaging in the upper 80% of census completion.
"We are still considerably lower and I'm assuming COVID has slowed a lot of their responses," Keller said, "We would really like to get somewhere in the mid-80's if not the low 90's for completion."
Remember, census numbers dictate state and federal funding that comes to our area for the next 10 years.
The U.S. Census Bureau announced that it will begin following up with household door-to-door that have not yet responded to the census. Here's what you can expect in the coming weeks, and where you can find help if you need it.
We are in the third week of what's called the mobile questionnaire assistance operation. Census representatives are stationed here locally and can assist you with the online response of the census. Locations include Goodwill off of U.S. 41 and CVS on Poplar Street in Terre Haute. This will continue through mid-September.
Census takers will be coming door-to-door beginning on August 11th here in the Valley. They will be wearing face masks, practicing social distancing, and always remain outside your home.
They can be easily identified with their government ID badge with a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark. They will go through the census form manually with you in order to boost response numbers here in the Wabash Valley.
Keller says it's vitally important for you to fill out your census form. This is so the Wabash Valley can get as much funding as possible and not see it go elsewhere.
"All rural areas could use as much local, state, and federal dollars as we can possibly get," Keller stressed, "The really big thing with the census is your federal dollars that are going to be coming into our area and into our state. We want to capitalize on that as much as we possibly can."
The deadline for door-to-door visits from census takers is October 30th.