Commerce encourages immediate response from rural North Dakotans, as delivery of the census packets in rural communities resumes

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The North Dakota Department of Commerce encourages rural residents to immediately respond to the Census 2020 survey as delivery of material packets resumes for the remaining rural residences in the state. 

“This is an opportunity for the state to get caught up with where it should be in the rate of responses,” said Kevin Iverson, Census Office manager at the North Dakota Department of Commerce. “The state is behind where it should be at this point with just 58% of residents having responded to the census, below the national average. Unfortunately, we have some counties in the state where less than 30% of residents have responded.”

Iverson attributes the low response rate to the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the delivery of materials to residents who do not receive mail at their household. According to Iverson, approximately 10% of North Dakota residents receive their mail via P.O. box.

Field staff began hand-delivering census materials to households on March 15, but suspended delivery on March 18 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The North Dakota Census Office, which re-opened on May 4, is training and equipping staff to deliver census materials to remaining locations.

As delivery resumes in North Dakota, census staff will canvass the state for places people might live, use a laptop to update the address list and leave a packet at the front door containing a census questionnaire and information about how to respond online or by phone.

Current field staff work doesn’t involve contact with the public. Census staff are instructed not to knock on the door when packets are delivered. The U.S. Census Bureau is currently scheduled to begin visiting all residences of non-responding individuals in August.

Prior to August, residents are highly encouraged to self-respond to the 2020 Census at https://my2020census.gov, by phone at 844-330-2020 or by completing and returning the mail-in survey

In addition to contactless reporting, self-responding also proves to beneficial in achieving a complete count.

“Residents who self-respond tend to provide more accurate data than is likely to be obtained in later door-to-door operations as some individuals will have moved on by that time,” Iverson said. “Even if the household has lost the form and no longer have its census ID code, the household can still respond online or by phone without the code.”

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