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Less than half of Milwaukee households have responded to 2020 census

NOW: Less than half of Milwaukee households have responded to 2020 census

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- As of Thursday afternoon, less than half of the households in Milwaukee have completed the 2020 census, according to regional Census officials.

Marilyn Sanders, regional director of the U.S. Census Bureau's Chicago Regional Office, said 48.8 percent of households in Milwaukee have completed the 2020 census compared to 58.4 percent in Wisconsin and 51.6 percent nationwide.

"The census results are used for planning. They're used for funding decisions that are made in our community that are critical during this pandemic," Sanders said during a teleconference Thursday afternoon.

Census data is used to divvy up states' Congressional seats and allocate federal dollars for projects such as new hospitals and road construction.

Because of the pandemic, the deadline to complete the 2020 census has been extended to Oct. 31. But local officials are encouraging residents to complete it as soon as possible.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said in previous decades, Milwaukee was above the national average.

"We are gathering here today for a call to action asking all of our residents to fill out their census form," Barrett said during the teleconference.

Sharon Robinson, chair of the Greater Milwaukee Complete Count Committee, said Wisconsin receives about $12.6 billion annually based on U.S. Census data. She said every uncounted resident, the state and city risk losing $1,600 each year for the ten years they go uncounted.

Committee members said the COVID-19 pandemic has caused some challenges in collecting the data. Door-to-door operations in Milwaukee have been postponed from May to August.

"What we're encouraging folks to do is stay home, sanitize and self respond," said committee co-chair Matt Dannenberg.

The U.S. Census Bureau recognizes certain communities as hard to count. They include children, immigrant and refugee communities, low-income families, renters and those who do not live in traditional housing, people of color, individuals with disabilities and rural communities.

"Refugee communities are often overlooked by society as a whole, and largely, that's because there exists little to no data for members of our community," said Paul Vang, civic engagement director of the Hmong American Women’s Association.

Vang also wanted to remind refugee communities that citizens and non-citizens need to be counted in the census.

"For those of you who are concerned about your data being used against you, you can be sure that your data's protected by law," he said.



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