CONGRESSMAN DON YOUNG SAYS WE NEED TO STEP IT UP
The state of Alaska may have had a drop in population, but looking at the data from the U.S. Census, one could wonder if there’s been a biblical-level exodus.
That’s because less than 37 percent of Alaskans have responded to the 2020 Census, the inventory of Americans that takes place every 10 years. Nationwide, the response rate is is currently at 55.6 percent. Alaska is considered the state with the worst response, so far.
In fact, Alaska has long been known as the hardest-to-count state, but this year it’s noticeably worse. At the rate Alaska is going with the Census, it could end up looking like the state with the lowest population. Right now, Alaska is third from the bottom in population, with only Wyoming (572,831) and Vermont (627,180) with fewer residents than Alaska (731,007).
During the 2010 Census, the final count was 731,545 Alaskans. Since then, the population has risen as high as 737,000 and has dropped during the recent recession. But by how much it has dropped is a moving target.
Congressman Don Young is concerned that too few people are taking part, and that could hurt federal funding that is often divided up among states based on population.
The fewer people who respond to the online option usually equates to a lower count overall, and that can end up harming Alaska at a time when it needs its full share of federal dollars.
The timeline for the Census has been extended due to the COVID-19 coronavirus; the new deadline is Oct. 31.
Field offices have been closed until June 1, and the door-to-door count, to attempt to count those who are not responding to their online option, will not start until August.
The current plan is to have Census staff drop off an invitation to participate to 29.7 percent (or 93,742) housing units in Alaska. The packet will include a paper version of the census questionnaire, as well as online instructions and a unique ID for online response. Householders can submit their census information either online or by phone, or by mailing back the questionnaire.
If householders do not respond, the Census Bureau will send reminder mailings to fill out the questionnaire. Finally, the Census takers will visit about 9.6 percent of households to try to enumerate them in person. That equate to 30,178 homes being visited by census-takers from August to October.