It is a Census year, but response rates in Duchesne County fall well below state and national averages. Failure to respond to the simple Census questionnaire could cost county residents more than $200 million over the next ten years.
Approximately 67 percent of residents in the State of Utah have responded to the Census. Uintah County has a response rate of 55 percent. Duchesne County, by contrast, has a response rate of just 29 percent.
According to the National Association of Counties, each person counted in the Census equals about $1,100 in federal funding. Duchesne County has a population of approximately 20,000 people, which means that $22 million federal dollars are on the table each year—money that the county won’t get if residents don’t respond to the Census.
“There are 316 federal programs that have funds allocated based on the Census,” said Duchesne County Commissioner Greg Miles. “Census data affects Medicare, Medicaid, small business grants, student loans, food pantries, fire departments. There are so many things that money is allocated for, but we won’t get it if we aren’t counted.”
Utah State Senator Ron Winterton agrees.
“All the federal grants and money that we apply for are based on population,” said Winterton. “That information comes from the Census. People need to understand that it is how the government divides up its money.”
The Census doesn’t only affect funding for programs. Census data is also used to establish voting districts.
“It’s equally important for people to understand that this is how they’ll determine where lines are drawn for voting districts,” said Miles. “We have a smaller and smaller voice each year when district lines are drawn. We have less representation from rural Utah. If the people here want us to have a voice in our government, then it’s ultra-important for them to care about the Census.”
Filling out the Census questionnaire has never been easier. The entire thing can be completed online and takes only a few minutes. Only one Census is required per household. To respond to the Census, go to my2020census.gov and click “Start Questionnaire.” The next screen will ask you to login with a 12-digit Census ID that you may have received by mail this spring.
If you don’t know your Census ID, you can still complete the online questionnaire. Beneath the login button, you’ll see a link titled “If you do not have a Census ID, click here.” You’ll be asked to enter your home address and redirected to the questionnaire.
“I think it took me about five minutes to complete mine,” said Winterton. “It’s very simple. The Census is just a headcount of where people were living as of April 1. It counts kids and adults. It’s just general questions. Anyone can do it in about five minutes. I would encourage everyone to go online and fill out their Census.”
It is important to remember to include every member of your household when filling out the questionnaire.
“It’s funny that people forget to count their kids in the Census,” said Miles. “Every person counts and every person matters. We need to count everyone so that we can take advantage of the federal programs available.”
Census workers will soon begin going door-to-door to contact county residents who have not responded to the questionnaire. However, officials want to encourage everyone to fill out the questionnaire online if possible.
“People may ask, ‘Why do I need to fill it out online when someone can come to my door?’ For reference, it costs $1.6 billion to pay for the Census,” said Miles. “I think we can take a little bit of responsibility.”
To fill out the Census today, go to my2020census.gov.