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County behind state, national Census response rate

Claiborne County residents are still behind the state and national averages when it comes to completing the 2020 Census, but it’s not too late to be counted.

According to the U.S. Census website, 57.6% of county residents have completed the census so far. Across Tennessee, the number is 62.8%, while the national average is just slightly higher at 63.5%.

Claiborne County Mayor Joe Brooks said completing the census is important and can help the county receive important funding to complete projects to benefit all county residents.

“We certainly are trying to encourage people to go online and do the census,” Brooks said. “We are under where we were 10 years ago, and we’d like to see that number match or even beat where we were 10 years ago, especially living in the digital age where it’s so easy to go online and do that. We all know that the benefits of having an accurate census is that it dictates how much grant funding we would get from the federal government coming back into Claiborne County. So the higher our census number, the more opportunity for grant funding we would have in Claiborne County.”

Ten years ago, for the 2010 Census, Claiborne County residents responded at a rate of 67.1%, according to the website.

Currently, about half of the county residents who have responded have done so via the internet, with 28.7% having used the online option to complete the 2020 Census. That pales in comparison to the state and national rates, where 46.7% of Tennesseans have used the online option, and nationally 50.8% have responded online.

“I am shocked that it is that low,” Brooks said of the number of local residents using the internet to be counted. “I would have figured everybody has the access of getting on the internet some way, be it by cell phone, tablet, or by a land device in your home. The information is certainly out there about the web address to do the census. We as a county shared that early on on the Facebook page for the Claiborne County mayor and the economic and community development page.”

Brooks acknowledged that not all people use Facebook, but he said there have been several opportunities for anyone wishing to complete the census to do so.

“Not everybody Facebooks, which is a problem to reach them, but social media has been a great opportunity to try to get into people’s lives to give them information about how important the census would be to the county’s benefit after the numbers are tallied. Having said that, if people can’t get the information out there about the census, and I know it’s gone out to everybody’s mailbox now … I don’t know if it’s just some unwillingness to be counted in the census or what it is. I do know the census workers, volunteers that are Claiborne Countians, are already starting to knock on doors of addresses that have not gone online to be counted in the census,” he said.

The deadline to complete the 2020 Census is Sept. 30, which is one month earlier than the original date. The change came via an announcement on Monday, Aug. 3, from the U.S. Census Bureau, which issued a statement ensuring that it plans to present an accurate count when the census is finished.

“We are committed to a complete and accurate 2020 Census. To date, 93 million households, nearly 63 percent of all households in the nation, have responded to the 2020 Census. Building on our successful and innovative internet response option, the dedicated women and men of the Census Bureau, including our temporary workforce deploying in communities across the country in upcoming weeks, will work diligently to achieve an accurate count,” the statement said.

Anyone who has not yet completed the 2020 Census can do so by visiting www.2020census.gov on the internet.