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Wisconsin A Leader In Census Response Rate, But Northwoods Lags Far Behind

Wisconsin trails only Minnesota in percentage of households responding to the 2020 Census so far.

More than 68 percent of households have already completed the Census.

“The state has always done exceedingly well in the decennial census. We still have a little work to do, but, right now being above the national response rate is really great right now,” said Deputy Regional Director Ellisa Johnson.

But the Northwoods is lagging behind the rest of the state in response rate.

Only 28 percent of households in Vilas County have responded, 40 points behind the state average. Forest County is at 31 percent, and Oneida County is at 43 percent.

Johnson said that may be because many homes in northern Wisconsin fall into a special designation.

“In some particular cases, those areas might fall into that ‘Update Leave’ category,” she said.

Credit U.S. Census
U.S. Census Deputy Regional Director Ellisa Johnson

That means, because they have special mail delivery like a PO Box, the Census form has to be delivered to the home by hand, which can delay the process.

“I want to stress that if you received that form via mail or if you received it via ‘Update Leave,’ that you fill it out and turn it back. It’s a really quick form. It took me, when I filled out my questionnaire, it took me under six minutes to fill it out,” Johnson said.

COVID-19 has delayed the entire Census response and collection timeline.

“I want your listeners to know that they still have time to respond. Our self-response period was due to close out at the end of July. But now, residents can self-respond all of the way through the end of October,” Johnson said.

Census workers will start knocking on doors on Aug. 11.

Ben worked as the Special Topics Correspondent at WXPR from September 2019 until November 2021. He now contributes occasionally to WXPR. During his full-time employment, his main focus was reporting on environment and natural resources issues in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula as part of The Stream, a weekly series.
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