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Editorial: Responses start rolling in to US Census; more still needed

While much of the public’s attention is rightly on the coronavirus, Salisbury and Rowan County cannot forget about the U.S. Census, which is ongoing.

People started receiving mailed census questionnaires weeks ago. And while nearly a quarter of local people had responded by Wednesday afternoon, there’s still work to do to ensure the federal government has an accurate count.

Census data determines representation in Congress and the state legislature, planning for roads and infrastructure, funding allocations by all levels of government and where businesses set up shop. The data also gives the public, news media, researchers and elected officials a gauge on the health and size of communities.

Workers have not yet started going door-to-door to solicit responses; that’s scheduled to happen in late May. The following represent self-response rates — that is, people voluntarily going online or mailing in response forms.

Self-response rates are as follows:

• North Carolina: 23.9%

• Rowan County (including municipalities): 24.6%

• Spencer: 28.9%

• Landis: 25.9%

• China Grove: 24.9%

• Salisbury: 24.4%

• Kannapolis: 23.4%

• Rockwell: 22.8%

• Granite Quarry: 20.2%

• Cleveland: 15.2%

• East Spencer: 7.5%

• Faith: 6.4%

The county’s final 2010 response rate was 65.9%. Community leader and regular folks should prioritize topping that number in 2020. Advances in internet technology since the last census make responding easier than ever.

The official questionnaire sent to homes includes the address for internet responses (my2020census.gov) and a code below the barcode on the front that people will need to use when visiting the website.

Responding online is a fast process. Salisburians and Rowan Countians would do well to take a short break from social media and do their part to ensure everyone here is counted.

Questions on the Census include:

• How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment or mobile home on April 1, 2020.

• Were there any additional people staying here on April 1, 2020 that you did not include in question No. 1?

• Is this house, apartment or mobile home owned by you or someone in the household with a mortgage or loan, owned by you or someone in this household free and clear, rented or occupied without payment of rent?

• What is your telephone number? (The Census says this will only be used if workers need to contact respondents for officials business)

The census also asks questions about each person in the home, including name, sex, date of birth, age, whether he or she is Hispanic or Latino and race.

There are no citizenship questions on the Census.

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