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Census response rate at 46%; mayor pleads for action

CITY HALL – Fewer than half of all St. Louisans have participated so far in the 2020 Census, and the city needs the rest of its residents to step up and be counted.

Beginning on March 12, each household received an official Census Bureau mailing with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone or by mail.

As of Tuesday, May 6, only 46 percent of St. Louisans had entered their responses to the questions.

That’s worrying to city officials, because the results of the 2020 Census will help determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding will flow into St. Louis every year for the next decade.

Mayor Lyda Krewson said Wednesday via Twitter that she had spoken with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross about the census and the low overall response rate.

The rate is “even lower with hard-to-reach populations,” she told the public in her tweet. “We must expand our outreach & communication efforts to improve this.

“Every dollar counts, and your response matters,” she emphasized.

The census results determine how much federal funding areas get for key public services and how many seats each state gets in Congress. State and local officials also use the census counts to draw boundaries for congressional, state legislative and school districts.

The Census Bureau waxes lyrical on its website about the impact of the census in allocating funds that affect our daily lives:

“Think of your morning commute: Census results influence highway planning and construction, as well as grants for buses, subways, and other public transit systems.

“Or think of your local schools: Census results help determine how money is allocated for the Head Start program and for grants that support teachers and special education.

“The list goes on, including programs to support rural areas, to restore wildlife, to prevent child abuse, to prepare for wildfires, and to provide housing assistance for older adults.”

Everyone living in the United States and its five territories is required by law to be counted in the 2020 Census. During the last census, in 2010, the city’s response rate was 56.7 percent.

April 1 was Census Day – not a deadline, but instead the date that each household should use to report who was actually living there on that day.

The deadline for answering the census questions has been extended to Oct. 31 because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

To check on response rates in specific areas, visit the 2020 Census response rate map. The map can even be used to sort the data by ZIP code.


MetroSTL.com is home to The NorthSider and The SouthSider weekly community newspapers. The SouthSider publishes 25,000 copies every Tuesday. The NorthSider publishes 25,000 copies every Thursday. They are distributed at over 600 locations across St. Louis.

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