Census Bureau: Iowans’ response rate nears 30%

    Iowa's response rate to the U.S. Census was nearing 30% as of March 23. (Photo by Getty Images)

    Iowa’s response rate to the U.S. Census is nearing 30%, ahead of the national average. But the COVID-19 outbreak could change how some data is collected.

    Iowa’s overall response rate was 29.5% as of March 23. That is ahead of the national average of 23.6%. The final 2010 response rate for Iowa was 73%.

    Census data is used to determine congressional representation. It informs how hundreds of billions of federal dollars will be allocated for the next decade to programs like Medicaid, school lunches and road construction.

    April 1 is national Census Day. Americans will report to the census based on where they will be living on that date. The Census Bureau is scheduled to start following up on households that have not responded, beginning as early as April 9 and across the country on May 13. People can still respond on their own during that time. However, the COVID-19 outbreak may change some plans, the Census Bureau has reported.

    “The Census Bureau will closely follow guidance from public health authorities when conducting this operation, as we do when conducting all field operations,” according to a statement on the Census Bureau’s website. “If we need to delay or discontinue nonresponse follow-up visits in a particular community, we will adapt our operation to ensure we get a complete and accurate count.”

    The 4th congressional district has the highest response rate so far this year with 30%; 24.5% have responded via the internet. The 1st District has a 29.8% response rate, with 27.7% responding via the internet. The 2nd District has 29.6% responding; 25.7% online. The 3rd District has the lowest rate so far with 28.5%; 26% online.

    The U.S. Census has mailed out paper questionnaires.  People can respond by mail, by phone or online at my2020census.gov.

    Kathie Obradovich
    Editor Kathie Obradovich has been covering Iowa government and politics for more than 30 years, most recently as political columnist and opinion editor for the Des Moines Register. She previously covered the Iowa Statehouse for 10 years for newspapers in Davenport, Waterloo, Sioux City, Mason City and Muscatine. She is a leading voice on Iowa politics and makes regular appearances on state, national and international news programs. She has led national-award-winning coverage of the Iowa Caucuses and the Register’s Iowa Poll.