Deadline for 2020 Census approaching: Here’s everything Michiganders should know

Census data determines allocation of federal funds, redrawing of congressional districts

A briefcase of a census taker is seen as she knocks on the door of a residence Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, in Winter Park, Fla. A half-million census takers head out en mass this week to knock on the doors of households that haven't yet responded to the 2020 census. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (John Raoux, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Time is running out for American households complete the 2020 Census.

U.S. households are urged to participate in the short 10-question survey, whose responses are used to count the population across the country and five U.S. territories. The current deadline to respond to the 2020 Census is now October 15.

Every 10 years the U.S. census is conducted to identify city, county and state populations, which in turn determine how much federal funding each region receives for programs and services -- including for hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads and other resources.

The once-a-decade head count of every U.S. resident also helps determine how many congressional seats each state gets in a process known as apportionment.

Households began responding to the 2020 Census in March online, by phone and by mail. All three options are still available for residents to respond to the census.

How to respond to the 2020 Census

The current deadline to respond to the 2020 Census is September 30.

If you haven’t yet responded to this year’s census, you can:

More: Abrupt census deadline may cost Michigan $300 million in federal funding, Congressional seats

The census response data below is from September 7, 2020. Click here for more current census response data..

2020 Census response rate in Michigan

The national 2020 Census response rate is currently 65.3%.

As of Monday, approximately 70.2% of Michigan households have responded to the 2020 Census so far. Michigan’s final response rate for the 2010 Census was 67.7%.

Michigan’s census response rate has ranked among the highest of the country this year. In our last report in June, Michigan’s 2020 Census response rate was ranked third in the country behind Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Now, Michigan’s response rate ranks fifth in the country as of Monday, trailing behind Nebraska (70.8%), Washington (71.4%), Wisconsin (71.4%) and Minnesota (74.2%).

Michigan counties in the southern half of the lower peninsula are responding to the 2020 Census in higher percentages than northern parts of the state. Livingston, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties each have about an 80% response rate -- among the highest census response rates in the state.

Mackinac, Oscoda, Keweenaw and Lake counties have response rates of 33% and below -- the lowest response rates in the state.

You can see how response rates differ among Michigan counties in the map below.

Some Michigan cities are responding to the 2020 Census in competitive percentages across the country. Here are a few notable rankings:

  • #4 - Huntington Woods, 93.3% census response rate
  • #22 - Pleasant Ridge, 90.9% census response rate
  • #41 - East Grand Rapids, 89.9% census response rate
  • #48 - Beverly Hills, 89.5% census response rate
  • #60 - Lathrup Village, 89.1% census response rate
  • #66 - Berkley, 88.9% census response rate
  • #102 - Grosse Pointe Woods, 87.7% census response rate
  • #146 - Grosse Pointe Farms, 87% census response rate

2020 Census response rate in Wayne County, Detroit

Though among the region of higher census response rates, Wayne County has maintained a low census response rate this year -- a problem the county has faced before.

As of Monday, about 65.3% of households in Wayne County have responded to the 2020 Census. The county is currently ranked 35th in the state.

The city of Detroit and surrounding areas are specifically reporting low response rates compared to other cities within Wayne County.

For example, about 80%-90% of households within the Northville and Plymouth regions have responded to the 2020 Census while most of the city of Detroit has census response rates between 16%-50%.

The city of Detroit as a whole has a census response rate of 49.6% as of Monday, ranking 499th in the state. Detroit was ranked at 491 back in June.

You can see how response rates vary across Wayne County using the map below.

Detroit households’ lack of response to this year’s census is worrisome as the city expects to lose $18,000 in funding for every resident who does not fill out the census.

“For particularly communities of color, when the government knocks on the door and wants to know information about you, Black and Brown Americans respond at lower rates,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “The administration knows it’s true, so the less effort they put in accounting, the more we will shift the money in the representation away from our cities.”

Individual and household information collected through the 2020 Census cannot be shared with any other agency, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Census takers will also continue to go door-to-door in Detroit.

Deadlines for census operations blurry amid new lawsuit, pandemic

Deadlines for 2020 Census operations have shifted numerous times due to uncertainties caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The U.S. Census Bureau earlier this year asked Congress to push the census response deadline from July to the end of October. The date is now set at September 30 -- which many say is too soon and will impact how many households are actually counted.

The bureau also asked Congress in April to extend the deadline for turning in census data used for drawing congressional districts from Dec. 31, 2020, to April 30, 2021. Top bureau officials have said it would be impossible to meet the end-of-the-year deadline, but the U.S. Senate has not responded to the request.

However, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order late Saturday against the Census Bureau to stop winding down operations to finish the census at the end of September.

The ruling comes after a the restraining order was requested by a coalition of cities, counties and civil rights groups that had sued the Census Bureau, demanding it restore its previous plan for finishing the census at the end of October, instead of using a revised plan to end operations at the end of September. The coalition had argued the earlier deadline would cause the Census Bureau to overlook minority communities in the census, leading to an inaccurate count.

The lawsuit contends the Census Bureau changed the schedule to accommodate a directive from President Donald Trump to exclude people in the country illegally from the numbers used in redrawing congressional districts. The revised plan would have the Census Bureau handing in the apportionment numbers at the end of December, under the control of the Trump administration, no matter who wins the election in November.

An internal document recently released by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform says that some efforts to meet the Dec. 31 deadline for turning in numbers used for redrawing congressional districts “represent abbreviated processes or eliminated activities that will reduce accuracy.”

The federal judge’s Saturday order stops the bureau from winding down operations until a court hearing is held on Sept. 17.

Click here to learn more about the U.S. Census

Click here to see more national and state census response data

About the Authors:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.