Caitlin Tan Published

Census Field Workers To Canvas Uncounted In W.Va.


West Virginians who have not responded to the U.S. Census might have a field worker showing up on their doorstep within the next five weeks.

Census workers are following up with households across the country, including in West Virginia, that have not self-reported through the mail, online or by phone. 

With about a month left to report, the response rate so far is 55.5 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2010, the final response rate in West Virginia was about 59 percent, making it 6 percent below the national average. 

“It’s not dire straits by any means,” said Stephen Shope, U.S. Census Bureau supervisory partnership specialist. “They’re [West Virginia] getting ready to surpass their 2010 rate. But we still got to keep pushing on to get that complete.”

Census numbers, which are collected every 10 years, directly impact federal funding for the state. The count for 2020 will determine how much of the $675 billion federal funds will be given to the Mountain State.

“This data we live with for 10 years, so taking 10 minutes to respond, it’ll benefit your family or community or state for the next 10 years,” Shope said.

The money helps fund housing, transportation, health care, education and emergency response — programs that often lack finances in economically distressed areas, such as West Virginia. 

An undercount of the population could also lead to losing a Representative in Congress. Currently West Virginia has three – David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Carol Miller.

The census count will end Sept. 30, a month sooner than previously planned. The Bureau cited the last-minute change as part of efforts to meet the statutory deadline of Dec. 31, 2020.