According to research by Carolina Demography, a research group affiliated with UNC-Chapel Hill, in the first 12 days that the 2020 Census forms were made available, only 16.6 percent of North Carolina households filled theirs out.
Compared to the national average of 19.2 percent, North Carolina currently is ranked 41st for its response rate — leading researchers to urge residents to fill out the forms in order for NC communities to receive adequate funding and representation.
This is the first time that everyone has the option of completing the census form online, in addition to by phone or mail. Rebecca Tippett, Carolina Demography’s director, said North Carolina’s online response rate is a full three percentage points below the national average, which could help explain the state’s relatively slow start.
The lowest response rates tend to be in the mountains, including Graham and Jackson counties at the bottom at 6.6%. Tippett said that may have to do with poor internet access and the prevalence of weekend or vacation homes, which may receive an invitation to fill out the census form but won’t ultimately count (people should be counted once, at their primary residence). Dare County on the coast also had a low response rate, at 6.8%
The numbers so far also show generally lower response rates in areas with relatively high numbers of non-white households. In Wake County, for example, 19% of all households had responded to the census, but in census tracts that are at least half minority that rate fell to 15.4%.
During the 2010 Census, about 65% of North Carolina households responded on their own, without a visit from a census worker.
Tippett said there’s still plenty of time for people to fill out their forms, either online, by phone or by mail.
“This is a very first cut, and there’s a lot of room for movement in these numbers,” she said. “We’re putting them out there, because right now people are busy, and we don’t want them to lose sight of how important the census is“.
If you have not filled out your 2020 Census, there are still multiple opportunities to participate. In less than a week, April 1st is Census Day.
Households can also respond through mid-August. If you have not responded by late May, census workers will begin showing up at homes that have not given a response.