The U.S. Census Bureau announced Monday that it would end its count one month early and local officials said they will continue to market and encourage people to take the survey as the deadline approaches.
“They made multiple changes because of the pandemic,” said David Purkey, chairman of the Hamblen County Complete Count Committee.
The bureau announced the deadline will now by Sept. 30. At that time, door-to-door knocking will cease, along with online, mail and telephone surveys.
According to Census records, the county so far has had a 65% self-response rate. Overall, in the last census in 2010, the county had a 69% response rate. Nationally there has been a 62.9% rate and a 62.3% response rate in Tennessee.
Ten years ago, Tennessee recorded a 67.1% rate.
Census records show the strongest response so far has been in the west side and southwest parts of the county.
Officials say it is extremely important for people to take the census survey to help with how federal dollars are spent. The federal government uses census numbers to divvy out money for grants that effect transportation, healthcare, social services and government programs.
“It’s vital for distribution of government moneys,” Purkey said.
He said the committee already had a self-imposed deadline of September for its marketing campaign, so the date moving up would not affect the county tremendously.
“It coincides with our deadlines,” he said.
The committee had received some grant money to help assist with a marketing campaign in Hamblen County. The county, city and HOLA Lakeway had all contributed to the grant, Purkey said.
The committee will proceed with an ongoing marketing campaign that will include billboards, social media and direct mail.
Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain said the committee to record the census hit a massive roadblock.
“We’ve conducted a campaign that was totally derailed by COVID,” he said.
The committee had planned on going to several events, but most of those events have been cancelled. He said they will look at shifting toward other areas of marketing.
“It’s really important for people to respond,” he said.
The census is very easy to complete and for those wishing to respond can do so online. The U.S. Census Bureau sent out numbers for people in February, but you do not have to have a number to complete it. You can verify your address then take the survey, which takes about five minutes.
Purkey said he feels the questions are pretty straightforward and simple.
“It was easy, it was quick, it was not intrusive,” he said.
To take the survey, you can go to 2020census.gov.