With the deadline to fill out the 2020 Census only days away, Northeast Michigan is lagging far behind.
And an undercount of our counties could add up to millions of dollars lost to Northeast Michigan residents. Monies that fund programs our residents desperately need and depend on.
The census determines how much federal funding our communities receive for things such as Medicare/Medicaid/MiChild programs, food assistance programs (SNAP and school lunch programs), road construction, Pell Grants, Head Start programs, low-income home energy assistance, broadband infrastructure, unemployment insurance, and more. In addition, accurate census counts determine how much representation Michigan will have in Washington D.C.
As of September 20, in Northeast Michigan only Cheboygan, Otsego, and Alpena Counties have over 50% self-response rates (Cheboygan County at 51%, Otsego County at 58%, and Alpena County at 70%). Presque Isle County is at 50%, Crawford County 45%, Crawford and Montmorency Counties 38%, and Oscoda County 33%. Only 2 counties in Michigan have lower self-reporting numbers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Almost half of the residents in Alpena and Otsego Counties who have been counted, filled out their census online, but other counties, with high rural populations and poor internet access, have struggled with online response rates. Barriers in connectivity isn’t the only issue Northeast Michigan has faced – with Stay Home, Stay Safe measures throughout much of the summer, U.S. Census canvassers are way behind in their door-to-door campaigns.
This is the first time the U.S. Census Bureau has allowed online reporting. While this has made participating in the Census easier for many across America, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has still been a barrier for many in Northeast Michigan, where poor connectivity or no access to a computer is a common theme.
With census counts so low across much of Northeast Michigan, many are worried about how much our region stands to lose in federal funding. Some fear the numbers could be in the billions of dollars.
There’s still time to be counted – the deadline to fill out the 2020 Census is September 30, 2020. The Census is only 9 questions and takes less than 10 minutes. You can complete your census by calling 844-330-2020, going online to my2020census.gov, or by mailing it in.