Have you filled out your census form yet? Today, April 1 is the day the count is based on.
Make it a Family Affair
Involve the kids in the census. Start with this video explaining the census.
They can help you fill out the form online by providing answers to the questions they know the answers. Talk about some of the questions and why they are answering them.
Current Washtenaw County Response Rates
As of March 30 (the most recent data, Response Rates in Michigan is at 41.9% compared to a national average of 36.2%. Washtenaw County is above average for the state at 46.6%, but Macomb is at 49.4%
In Washtenaw County, some communities are doing better than others.
- Chelsea – 55.6%
- York Township – 54.1%
- Scio Township – 53.4%
- Dexter – 53.1%
- Saline – 50.7%
- Lodi Township – 50.3%
- Ann Arbor Township – 49%
- Milan – 47.4%
- Pinckney – 46.4%
- City of Ann Arbor – 46.2%
- Pittsfield Township – 46.1%
- Superior Township – 44.5%
- Northfield Township – 44.5%
- Manchester – 44.4%
- Ypsilanti Township – 43.3%
- City of Ypsilanti – 37.9%
How Do I Fill Out My Census Form
The Census form can be filled out online, even from a smart phone. A couple of weeks ago you should have received a mailing that includes the 12 digit census ID for your residence. I actually received two mailings just a couple of days apart. Even if you do not have your mailing, you can fill out your census form using your address.
The Census Bureau has videos available in many languages to help you fill out your census form.
The form can also be completed by phone or paper form, but internet is the preferred method. It took me less than 10 minutes to fill out the form for our family of 3.
What Does the Census Ask?
Primarily the census asks how many people are living in your house and demographical information. For more information on the census questions, see the questions asked on the 2020 census.
It asks for each person’s name, sex, date of birth, relationship to the first person, and racial/ethnic composition. I am just realizing that I was the first person and it asked for everyone’s relationship to me. Interestingly, it does not ask for anyone’s relationship to anyone else. So I had to answer that my daughter is my biological child, but never that she was my husband’s biological child.
The question that I had the hardest time answering for our family was the racial/ethnic composition. They asked for a free-form description of your origin. Their examples included German, Irish, Egyptian, etc. My husband and I both have mixed ancestry from multiple European countries (he has a branch that goes back to William Penn’s cousins). I was wondering if they really wanted me to answer in detail ” 3/8 German, 1/4 Italian, 1/4 Irish, 1/8 French”. I chose to answer European for all 3 of us, but probably should have answered American.
I was also asked about the ownership status of our residence – Do we own with a mortgage, own free and clear, rent, or occupied without paying rent?
What Doesn’t the Census Ask?
The census will not ask where you were born or your citizenship status. It will not ask for financial information (beyond home ownership/rental) or your social security number or bank accounts.
Who to Count?
The Census counts everyone living in your house as of today – April 1, 2020. The Census website has an entire page of Who to Count that addresses a number of confusing situations. I have tried to summarize some popular questions Ann Arbor families may have in answering the questions, but you should always refer to the Census Bureau for the final authority.
Count babies born by today. Family who are temporarily living elsewhere should be counted where they usually live.
For shared custody situations, children should be counted where they spend the most time. If it is split 50/50, they should be counted where they are on April 1. Children in Foster Care should be counted where they spend most of the time. If in doubt, count them where they are on April 1.
College students should be counted at their college residence (dorm or off-campus housing) even if they are currently home due to COVID-19.
If you have an essential working living in temporary housing to limit your family’s exposure, they should still be counted at their permanent residence. Likewise if a child is temporarily staying with a grandparent or other relative, they should be counted at their permanent residence.
For other situations such as foster care, military deployments, hospitalizations, etc., please see the Census bureau for further clarification.
What Happens if I Don’t Fill It Out?
The Census form needs to be completed for every household. If you do not fill it out, Census workers will need to come to your residence to gather the information. With social distancing recommendations due to COVID-19, it is important to minimize these unnecessary interactions. Also, filling out your Census form online is the most cost-effective way for the government to collect your information.
So fill out your Census form and help get the count done!