Onondaga Co. census participation rates high, but more needs to be done

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SYRACUSE, NY (WSYR-TV) — Onondaga County is one of the leading counties in the New York State for completing the U.S. Census.

The Census Bureau reports 57.1 % of addresses in the county completed census forms either online, over the phone, or by mail.

The national average was 53 % and the average across New York State was 47.6 %.

The response rate in Syracuse was 42.6 %

See your community’s response rate on this interactive map.

The bad news is that in some of Syracuse’s poorest neighborhoods the response rate was lower, in the 25-35 % range according to the Census Bureau’s online census response tracking web page.

Another area where response rates were low is in the neighborhoods around Syracuse University.

COVID-19 has shut the campus and the university is providing distance learning to students.

Those students are not at their off-campus apartments, but census officials say students should complete the census forms for their off-campus housing, not where they are living with family.

Another are of concern, are rural communities.

Census packets are not delivered to P.O. boxes, only physical addresses.

Census workers began the process of hand delivering packets on March 15, but two days later the deliveries were halted as part of the efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The pandemic has caused other issues for the count.

In two weeks, census takers were to start going door to door to collect information from those who did not respond online, by phone, or mail.

Because of COVID-19, the Census Bureau has asked Congress for additional time in order to get a complete count.

That request is pending.

If you haven’t responded to the census yet, or have yet to receive a census invitation, you can go online to Census.gov and take part.

The process should take about ten minutes.

A head count of every American is required every ten years by the Consititution.

The numbers are used to decide the number of representatives each state gets in the House of Representatives.

State governments use that information to form state legislative districts as well.

And the population data is used to determine how federal funds are allocated for social programs, infrastructure and other federal spending.

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