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Census Bureau ending counting efforts a month early, on Sept. 30; rural areas likely undercounted

“The U.S. Census Bureau is ending all counting efforts for the 2020 census on Sept. 30, a month sooner than previously announced, the bureau’s director confirmed Monday in a statement,” Hansi Lo Wang reports for NPR. “That includes critical door-knocking efforts and collecting responses online, over the phone and by mail.”

That means rural areas are less likely to be counted, since non-metropolitan counties have a lower response rate than metro counties. “Nationally, 62.8% of households have responded to the census,” Tim Marema reports for The Daily Yonder.

“Only a quarter of non-metropolitan counties have met or exceeded that response rate, while more than half of metropolitan counties have.”

Of the nation’s 1,971 non-metropolitan counties, 38% have a response rate under 50%, as of July 29, Marema reports.

An undercount of the rural population would have wide-ranging implications beyond Electoral College votes and apportionment of U.S. House and state legislative seats.

The Census website includes examples of how the population count can affect community programs in education, health care, hospital funding, and more,” Marema notes.

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