City Clerk-Treasurer Dave Godek said he is happy with Janesville’s self-response rate for the 2020 Census.
Janesville has a 79% self-response rate, which is 13.5 percentage points higher than the national rate of 65.5%. It’s also 7.5 points higher than the state response rate of 71.5% and 2.5 points higher than Rock County’s 76.5% rate.
Milton and Edgerton’s response rates are 82.2% and 81.8%, respectively, Godek said.
The U.S. Constitution mandates a nationwide headcount every 10 years. Data from the census determines congressional representation and federal funding for state and local programs, and it influences where businesses choose to build or relocate.
Census enumerators, otherwise known as census workers, in the last week or so have started circulating in the city to gather responses from those who have not yet filled out their census forms.
The coronavirus pandemic has pushed everything back, Godek said. Census workers typically would have made their rounds earlier in summer, but they started later because of the pandemic.
Workers will be out and about through Sept. 30, the last day for people to self-respond online, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s website.
This is the first year online forms have been available. Those looking to fill out their forms online will need their mailed forms because those forms include a code needed to complete the online document.
Enumerators carry identification with them, Godek said, and residents should not be afraid to ask to see identification if a census worker shows up at their door.
He advises residents and workers to wear masks, speak outside and maintain 6 feet of distance between them to prevent spreading the virus.
Census workers will never ask for personal information about finances or health and will never ask for a Social Security number, Godek said.
Anyone who believes they have been approached by someone pretending to be a census worker should call the Janesville Police Department’s nonemergency phone line to report it, Godek said.
Census data is aggregated, meaning it is added to a large pool and cannot be traced back to a particular respondent, Godek said. It is illegal for Census Bureau workers to share the data with anyone, including government agencies such as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he said.
Enumerators will visit only homes where people have not responded, but they might approach neighbors to ask about households they are trying to reach, Godek said.
After the response deadline passes, the bureau will aggregate the data and eventually report population counts to municipalities.
The counts will be delivered to states for legislative redistricting July 31, according to the bureau’s website.
Census counts are used to create legislative districts and to help allocate $600 billion in federal funds annually, Godek said.