Editorial: Respond to Census, help the community

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 4, 2020

If you’re having trouble keeping up with 2020, you’re not the only one. 

With roughly five months left, it’s safe to say this will be a year that finds a prominent place in history. And it’s critical that the entire community does its part to record a small part of this time in history by completing the U.S. Census. 

Most critically, responding to the Census ensures that you are counted. That means being counted in determining representation in Congress and the state legislature. It means being counted so that state officials know where to improve or build new roads. And it means being counted for any range of funding decisions.

As of Monday, 61.6% of Rowan Countians had completed the census, mostly via the internet. Census workers have begun following up with non-responsive homes only in select locations — none of which are in Rowan County. The majority of census offices will begin their follow-up work next week. 

That response rate doesn’t put the community near the top of the state, but it’s better than the state average and close to the final 65.9% response rate in 2010 — the prior U.S. Census. And it’s better than some neighboring counties, too, including Cabarrus and Stanly.

But it’s critical for the future of the community that people continue self-responding. 

Southern Rowan towns appear to be doing the best in responding to the Census and are the only ones to top a 60% response rate. Landis has the best response of any municipality, at 65.1%. China Grove’s response rate was 62% on Monday. 

Southern Rowan can also lay claim to the best response rate of any Census tract. 

Tract 518.02, which roughly starts near the China Grove town limits and extends to the county line below Mooresville Road, has a response rate of 69.9%. Other tracts in southern Rowan can also claim respectable response rates.

Particularly in Salisbury and East Spencer, there’s still work to do. Salisbury has a 58.1% response rate — better only than East Spencer. Areas where assistance is particularly needed includes the downtown and North Main communities and Long Street corridor. 

Tract 508, which contains all of East Spencer and areas immediately adjacent to I-85, also needs to see its 40.7% response rate improve.

For those who haven’t already responded, the easiest way to do so is to visit my2020census.gov or calling 844-330-2020. Those who speak Spanish can call 844-468-2020. Responding takes just a few minutes for smaller households and can also be completed quickly for larger family units. All responses are kept confidential. Importantly, if someone calls you back from the Census, he or she will not ask about financial information or for a social security number

For those who have responded, which is now a majority of Rowan Countians, tell your neighbors, friends and coworkers to do the same. Put a reminder in your church bulletin. Ask the people who represent you on town or city council what they’re doing to encourage people to respond. 

The list is long of the ways that responding to the Census will help our community. The time it takes to respond is short.