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County self-response census rate ends at 59%

AP Photo According to the head of Chautauqua County’s census push, 59% of all residents filled out a census form on their own.

The census count for 2020 has officially closed.

This year, Adam Dolce, who is the director of the United Way of Northern Chautauqua County, has been heading up Chautauqua County’s census push.

Countywide, Dolce said 59% of all residents filled out a census form on their own.

After the pandemic hit, the plan was for census operations to go to the end of October; however, the Trump administration ordered the counting end by Sept. 30. That was challenged in court, which went to the Supreme Court. The justices agreed with the Trump administration to end the numeration, so the Census Bureau ended field operations Thursday.

“Certainly, we needed as much time to respond as we possibly could, but looking at Chautauqua County’s response rate, many of our more populated areas — the city of Dunkirk, the city of Jamestown, village of Fredonia, Westfield — actually had response rates that were pretty close to or above the state average,” Dolce said in a phone interview. “The areas of Chautauqua County that really struggled with the census this year appear to be our most rural areas.”

Dolce and the not-for-profit groups he worked with focused on self-reporting. The U.S. Census Bureau sent enumerators to residents that did not respond. He doesn’t know how well they were able to complete their work, especially with it wrapping up more than two weeks earlier than originally expected.

This year’s self-response in Chautauqua County is slightly below 2010’s. According to the U.S. Census’ website, in 2010 there was a 60% self-response rate.

While Chautauqua County’s self-response this year was 59%, their response rate was higher than Cattaraugus County (53.5%) or Allegany County (49.5%). Erie County’s response rate was better, with a 70.5%. Statewide, New York’s self-response was 64%.

Dolce said he doesn’t have any results of this year’s census count. “We’ll start getting reliable data in early 2021,” he said.

Once the census data is complete, Congress will likely begin the process of redistricting Congressional representation.

Dolce noted the census is important because it’s how the federal government determines how much money to give communities for things like road repair, Medicaid, nutrition, etc. The reason the United Way was involved is because the higher the population, the more financial aid they are eligible to receive to assist others.

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