By Julie Giordano Plotkin
April 1, 2020, Census Day, has come and gone. Census invitations and first reminders have gone out. The online survey site and call-in centers have been active for months, and by all estimates, this year’s household participation rate, even prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 in mid-March, may be lower than at this point in the 2010 census. Areas of New Jersey where 2010 census participation was particularly low, are at greatest risk of being missed and, therefore, the most significant risk for harm.
The stakes are high. The size of New Jersey’s congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., and federal funding for our schools, for Medicare, Medicaid, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are all determined by the census. Population statistics use census data to determine rates of disease, poverty, employment and crime. Accuracy depends on a complete census count.
Respond to the census, if you haven’t done so already. Ask everyone you know to do the same. Consider including census-related topics in your lesson plans, and/or check in with your local Complete Count Committee to help ensure everyone in your community is counted.
If you have ties to a hard-to-count population, please consider getting involved. Your community’s trust in you can make all the difference in someone’s decision to participate.
Areas where a low percentage of residents completed and returned the 2010 census are considered hard-to-count areas. Cities can be the hardest to count with low participation rates as listed here for some of our state’s largest municipalities: Irvington (50%), Atlantic City (55%), City of Orange (55%), Newark (55%), Asbury Park (56%), New Brunswick (56%), Trenton (59%), Jersey City (60%), Paterson (60%), and Camden (61%).
According to ACNJ Fact Sheets:
• 148,166 children under age 5 live in hard- to-count areas of New Jersey.
That comprises 28% of the total population of children under age 5 in the state.
• 190,008 Asian people live in hard-to-count areas of New Jersey. That comprises 21% of the total Asian population in the state.
• 668,636 Black or African American people live in hard-to-count areas of New Jersey. That comprises 51% of the total Black population in the state.
• 696,085 Hispanic or Latinx people live in hard-to-count areas of New Jersey. That comprises 40% of the total Hispanic population in the state.
The U.S. Census Bureau considers populations hard to count if they are:
• Hard to locate – Populations can be both hard to sample and hard to identify by some characteristic of interest (e.g., nomadic peoples and those hard to identify because of stigma and motivated misreporting, sometimes for reasons of personal safety).
• Hard to contact – Once located, populations can be difficult to physically access (e.g., gated communities or populations experiencing homelessness).
• Hard to persuade – Once accessed, populations may be reluctant to participate in enumeration (e.g., political dissidents or those who feel that they are too busy to participate).
• Hard to interview – Once engaged, enumeration itself may be hindered by some barrier (e.g., lack of a shared language, low literacy or some form of disability).
Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) has identified five demographic groups in need of targeted census outreach: Asian, Latinx, Black/African American, children under age 5, and households with limited or no internet access. ACNJ has compiled detailed fact sheets and mapping tools, which can be found on the Complete Count page of the Fund for New Jersey’s website.
Jan. 21: The U.S. Census Bureau began counting remote Alaska.
March 12- August 14: Public Self-Response Phase, extended by two weeks due to COVID-19.
April 1: Census Day is observed nationwide. By this date, every home should have received an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census.
April 15: Due to COVID-19, the U.S. Census Bureau suspended field operations until April 15, 2020.
May 28 – August 14: Census takers will interview households in person that have not responded online, by phone or by mail. Dates adjusted two weeks forward due to COVID-19.
December: The Census Bureau will deliver apportionment counts to the president and Congress.
Response Outreach Area Mapper (ROAM)
This Census Bureau tool was developed to make it easier to identify hard-to-survey areas and to provide a socioeconomic and demographic characteristic profile of these areas using American Community Survey.
2020 Census Response Rate
Check out this map tool to see how your community is doing in real-time.
2020 Census Complete Count Committee page with data visualization and contact info.
NJ Census Facebook page: facebook.com/NJCensus2020
NJ Census Twitter feed: twitter.com/nj_census2020
Advocates for Children of New Jersey
Short on time? The most comprehensive NJ-specific census site is the Advocates for Children of New Jersey-sponsored “Census 2020 NJ,” where you will find a list of upcoming census events (with links), toolkits, and handouts. Visit acnj.org/census2020nj.
Census Counts resources page
Census Counts is a coalition of 15 national organizations, including the National Education Association, and dozens of community partners in more than 30 states. The Census Counts resources page contains toolkits, fact sheets and webinars on everything from census basics to cybersecurity to outreach to specific populations, including Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities; African American communities; Arab American communities; people with disabilities; families with young children; Latinx communities; LGBTQ+ communities, and Native American communities. Visit censuscounts.org/resources.
NEA’s 2020 Census Toolkit
The National Education Association’s toolkit includes fliers to send home with students in English, Spanish and Vietnamese as well as posters and lesson plans. nea.org/home/75858.htm.
Complete Count NJ Resources page
This page has a list of “Get Out the Count Hubs,” with links to organizations doing targeted outreach, including, but not limited to:
Do you have a college student or young adult sheltering-in-place with you?
The U.S. Census Bureau says you should NOT include them as members of your household even if they were residing with you on April 1, 2020. College student and others should respond and count themselves where they “live and sleep most of the time.” For more information, see 2020census.gov/en/who-to-count.html.