ROCHELLE – With the United States Census being counted next year, the City of Rochelle is doing everything in its power to ensure an accurate number is recorded.
Every 10 years the U.S. Constitution mandates that the U.S. government conducts a complete count of the country’s population. To prepare Rochelle residents for the upcoming count next year, the city has created census partners, a group that has joined forces with many local non-profits and businesses to help spread the word to the community.
“The main goal of the group is to Inform, educate and encourage the community to complete the census,” explained Rochelle City Clerk Sue Messer.
Sue Messer, The group has met once so far and will continue to meet more frequently as the 2020 census approaches.
There are many different reasons as to why it is important to get an accurate count, but the most important reason is funding, including funds received both federally and from the state determined by the area’s population. According to the Unites States Census Bureau, the census accounts for the distribution of more than $675 billion in federal grants and support to states, counties and communities.
During the last census count that took place in 2010, it is estimated that 84 percent of the population in Ogle County participated.
At first glance, this looks like a good participation percentage, but when the numbers are broken down the county is missing out on a large amount of valuable funding.
“In the 2010 census it was estimated that there were roughly 8,560 people who went uncounted in Ogle County and it is estimated that each uncounted person corresponds to a minimum of $1,535. So, for Ogle County in just one year that would actuate to over $13 million,” said Messer.
In previous years, the census was counted using physical paper copies, along with census volunteers who would go door-to-door to help make sure an accurate count was taken. But this year, for the first time the majority of the counting will be done online with the help of employees hired by the United States Census Bureau, rather than volunteers.
In February, census data of group settings such as nursing homes, hospitals and prisons will be taken. In March, post cards will be sent out to residents with computer access so people may participate online and phone numbers for people who would rather call. The state will continue sending post cards up to five times until the residents living in the home have responded. If the a household still has not participated in the census count, an in-person visit will take place.
While there are still many ways to participate in the census, the main goal this year is to try and get as many people to participate electronically as possible.
“They are trying to the do the bulk with electronic responses, and then there will be some follow up with mail and/or in person visits,” added Jenny Thompson, director of marketing, public relations and tourism for the city.
In years past, one of the main reasons residents have chosen to not participate in the census is a fear of their information not being protected. City officials want everyone to know that their data is protected by federal law.
According to the United States Census Bureau, it is against the law for the Census Bureau to publicly release your responses in any way that could identify you or your household. It is also illegal for the Census Bureau to share your answers with any other government agency.
The next meeting for the census partners is Thursday, Nov. 14 at 10 a.m. at Rochelle City Hall. City officials are hoping that anyone interested will attend to help drive participation.
Being a census worker pays $15.50 per hour along with having flexible hours, weekly pay and paid training. To apply to be a census employee, click Apply Now at www.2020census.gov/jobs.
“For us, this funding is just so important so you always want to make sure that you have a good count,” said Messer.