DOWNTOWN — The federal government will end the U.S. Census count one month earlier than expected.
The announcement comes as more than 40 percent of Chicagoans have yet to respond to the population count. On Monday night, the U.S. Census Bureau announced it would end its field data collection by Sept. 30 rather than Oct. 31.
The bureau will also end its practice of knocking on the doors of households that have not completed the Census by Sept. 30.
The final date to submit census data had been pushed back to the end of October because of the coronavirus pandemic. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham, however, said in a statement that moving the deadline will help the agency complete its count by the end of the year deadline.
The move comes as the city is pushing its residents to fill out the Census. As of Monday, 56.5 percent of city residents had completed the Census, according to the city.
That figure has not changed much since early July, when Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city’s “not even close” to where it needs to be on the Census count.
“We have to do better. We can do better,” Lightfoot said. “We have to aim higher and set our sights on making sure we do everything we can to change that 55 percent to a much higher number.”
The city has rolled out ward-specific Census data, which ranks wards by what percentage of the population had filled out the survey.
City officials have staged events and other measures to get residents to participate in the Census. That includes a drag queen-led Census town hall in Uptown and an appearance from the South Side’s Dreadhead Cowboy to help boost Census awareness.
The census can be filled out online or over the phone by calling 844-330-2020. It typically takes less than 10 minutes to fill out.
Census participation helps determine federal funding for critical services including education, child care, workforce training and health care. The state risks losing $195 million per year for each 1 percent of the population undercounted.
Illinois could also lose two congressional seats to census-based redistricting.
Filling out the Census can help underfunded neighborhoods receive more resources, officials have said.
“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 investments happen all over this city,” Lightfoot said in July. “We’ve got a lot to lose, but it’s important we get this done and get it done as quickly as possible.”
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