Census responses in Chicago lagging behind national rate

Chicago News

CHICAGO — Chicago is lagging behind the rest of the country when it comes to filling out the 2020 Census, officials said Monday.

The current response rate for the 2020 Census is about 62 percent in the U.S. and 66 percent in Illinois, but in Chicago only 55 percent of residents have filled out the census so far. City leaders say numbers are even lower in neighborhoods that are lacking resources on Chicago’s south and west sides. 

More than $675 billion is distributed every year based on census numbers, to help pay for better schools, roads, parks and libraries.

Speaking Monday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot appealed to Chicago residents to complete the census, since responses will guide federal funding for the next 10 years.

“The census isn’t just about tallying our city’s population, it’s about making sure we have the resources we need to make sure that investments happen all over this city,” Lightfoot said.

According to one estimate, $1,400 is lost every year for every individual that doesn’t participate in the census.

“We hear so often ‘my community needs’ well the census count can help an accurate count can help fulfill those needs of our communities,” said Marilyn Sanders, Midwest Regional Director of the Census Bureau.

Local leaders previously expressed concern the pandemic could reduce response rates in low-income neighborhoods which are typically under-counted even further.

Lightfoot said she’s dedicated to getting residents what they need, but the community has to step up.

“We have to do better, we can do better, we have to aim higher and set our sights at doing everything we can to change that 55 percent to a much higher number,” Lightfoot said.

Filling out the census takes about five minutes and can be done online or by phone. The final deadline has been extended to October 31. 

More than 10,000 census takers will begin going door-to-door to visit people who have not yet filled out the form starting next month.

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