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Census response rate shows region only half counted

Important matters, local funding hang in the balance

More than a month into the 2020 census, many people have yet to respond.

As of Wednesday, 56.8 percent of households nationwide had responded, and just a bit more, 59.1 percent, of Pennsylvania households had responded.

In Lycoming County, 59 percent had responded, while in Williamsport only 49 percent had completed the questionnaire so far.

In neighboring counties, results vary. They include Clinton, 51.7 percent; Northumberland, 56.2 percent; Union, 62.6 percent; Tioga, 47.1 percent; Bradford, 51.8 percent; and Sullivan, 16.5 percent.

We wonder why the rate isn’t better. It only takes a few minutes to respond, and it seems that people have no shortage of spare time during these stay-at-home days.

Could it be a lack of trust?

Sure, there are plenty of scam artists out there. We are frequently asked to remind readers of scams that target unsuspecting persons, particularly the elderly.

Remember, the census will not ask for personal information such as Social Security or bank account numbers. The census will not ask for political party. Information collected by the census will not be used against you by law enforcement. And any census workers who show up on your door are required to carry a census identification badge with their photo, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date.

We encourage everyone to complete the census. Failure to do so means that our region may be underrepresented, underfunded and underserved.

That’s because the 2020 census will be used to determine congressional representation when redistricting takes place next year.

It will be used to decide how to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding each year for more than 100 programs, including those for hospitals, fire departments, school lunch programs, Medicaid, Head Start, community mental health services and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP.

In short, the census will provide data that will impact communities for the next decade.

This is why a complete count is essential to every community in our region. This is important business, and it’s easier than ever to complete.

Please don’t delay — respond to the census today.

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