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Census response rate in Central Florida low, according to map

Local counties expected to be undercounted, according to Census Bureau’s self-response rate map

The U.S. Census logo appears on census materials received in the mail with an invitation to fill out census information online.
The U.S. Census logo appears on census materials received in the mail with an invitation to fill out census information online. (2020 Getty Images)

It’s arguably the most important count of the decade and so far it seems Central Florida will come up short.

In an effort to tabulate every person across the country for the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau’s self-response data shows less than 36% of Floridians have responded as of March 31 at 12 a.m.

Response results help shape the future of communities as it informs how billions of dollars in federal funds are distributed for health clinics, school lunch programs, disaster recovery initiatives, university grants which could translate into scholarships and other programs and services for the next 10 years.

April 1 is National Census Day, a key reference for the survey as it asks households to count those living under its roof as of that day.

Typically, Census Day is used as a reference point to see which communities need to be encouraged to fill out the questionnaire.

[INTERACTIVE MAP BELOW: See Census response date across the nation]

Census experts say the coronavirus pandemic has put a dent in Census counting. The bureau suspended all field operations over COVID-19 concerns and also delayed the timeline to counting off-campus students after colleges and universities were suspended for the rest of the spring semester, shifting to online classes.

[RELATED: Volunteers raise awareness of under-reported Orange County communities ahead of 2020 Census | Why you should fill out the 2020 census]

As Central Florida’s population is left in flux and certain communities are not exposed to the importance of the census, Central Florida’s self-report data also comes up short with less than 40% response rate. The map features self-response data from households that have responded to the 2020 Census online, by mail or by phone.

See a list of Central Florida counties and their response rates below:

CountySelf-response rate
Brevard County39.8%
Flagler County41.0%
Lake County37.8%
Marion County41.0%
Orange County34.0%
Osceola County29.4%
Polk County36.0%
Seminole County40.5%
Sumter County48.1%
Volusia County38.3%

People still have until August to respond either by phone, mail or online. The Census Bureau is currently relying on people in the United States to self-report since the coronavirus pandemic has paused in-person data collection.

To be part of the count, check your mail today and follow the directions to take your survey.

To learn more about the 2020 Census, go to clickorlando.com/census.