For weeks, the U.S. Census Bureau has sent out postcards to local residents encouraging participation in the nationwide population count conducted every 10 years.
Census information is used to determine Congressional representation and availability for a myriad of resources like head start programs and rural assistance initiatives.
About a month in to the count, however, less than half of Logan County residents have actually completed the survey. According to response rates measured by the U.S. Census Bureau, 46 percent of county residents have completed the census so far.
That figure is slightly better in the city of Bellefontaine — 50.3 percent — but both of those participation figures still trail the statewide average of 52.6 percent. Response rates across the country are 49 percent, figures show.
Not only are local census participation rates trailing the state average for this 2020 census, but they are lagging substantially behind 2010 census participation rates. By April 27, 2010, Logan County’s census response rate was 77 percent, according to historical data provided by U.S. census workers.
“Please consider responding today so that we can be fairly represented with political seats, road funding, public health funding and more,” Bellefontaine Service-Safety Director David Henry wrote in an April 9 social media post. “It’s important!”
Henry is among eight county leaders that comprise a Logan County Census committee, made up of county commissioners Joe Antram, John Bayliss and Paul Benedetti, along with their administrator DeDe Doss; Bellefontaine Mayor Ben Stahler, Henry, Logan County Chamber of Commerce President Ben Vollrath and Logan County Department of Job and Family Services Director Cynthia Heffner.
An accurate count of individuals is essential to ensuring that municipalities and counties receive the federal dollars and resources that they are entitled to, amounting to approximately $675 billion nationwide, and to help communities to prepare and meet transportation and emergency readiness needs, the committee has reported.
Each person not counted in the census can result in a loss of approximately $1,814 per year over the 10-year period, the U.S. Census Bureau reports.
The Logan County Commissioners noted that in addition to helping to secure local funding, the census also ensures that the citizens of Logan County are fairly represented.
The census helps to determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives and political representation at all levels of government. After each decade’s census, state officials redraw the boundaries of the congressional and state legislative districts in their states to account for population shifts.
Previous U.S. Census Bureau statistics available at data.census.gov, reports that Logan County has a population of 45,307 people and 18,654 total households, in the county covering 458.3 square miles. The median age of Logan County residents is 40.8, compared to the median age of 37.9 in the U.S.
Those that have not yet participated will receive a final reminder postcard between April 20 and 27 before U.S. Census workers perform a follow-up visit to the home in person.
“We have many people asking questions about the census and if their information will be kept safe. We can ensure them that it is a safe and confidential process,” Commissioner Antram said.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that responses in the survey are protected by law. The bureau is not permitted to release any information that would identify a person individually. Every Census Bureau employee and contractor is sworn to protect personal information and faces a penalty including fines of up to $250,000 and/or or up to five years in prison.
Regarding the online census forms, the bureau has a team of cybersecurity experts who monitor and protect the agency’s technology around the clock.
For further information about the census process, visit https://2020census.gov. The Logan County Commissioner’s Office also can be reached at 599-7283.