HENNEPIN — The Regional Census Director for Northwest Illinois has his eye on Putnam County.
Perry Maier said Putnam County is ranking among the 10 lowest counties in Illinois as far as response-rate for the Census. Recently, Putnam County was sitting at a 60.9% response rate, compared to the state’s response rate of 67.9%.
Maier said COVID has had a direct impact on the response rate this year, and the Census organization is doing what it can to makeup for that. Many block parties and education events had to be canceled due to the COVID shutdown this spring.
Maier said there have also been a lot concern surrounding the citizenship question on the Census.
“People are still fearful of sharing information with the government,” he said. “However, your response is confidential, secure and protected by federal law.”
Maier stresses the importance of filling out the census as it’s linked to federal dollars that come back to support Putnam County to help with schools, transportation, roads, etc. The Census count will also play a factor in the Illinois House of Representatives.
“Illinois is already going to lose one representative in the House, because of population changes,” he said. “We are teetering on loosing another one. If we don’t get an accurate count, we are going to loose two reps which then diminish our power. It is about power and money.”
Maier said every person counts in the Census. One person is equal to $1,400.
“If you don’t fill it out, then that’s $1,400 the state is going to lose per year. Now, times that by 10 years. One person is worth $14,000,” he said.
Putnam County could lose thousands of federal aid if it loses counts in the Census.
“It’s a lot money to help you pay for your roads and buy equipment and also helps you get better grants for your towns and cities,” he said.
Maier said if a Census worker comes knocking, take the time to answer the questions. However, also be on the lookout for fraud.
“If a person asks for money, party affiliation, your bank account number, close the door,” he said.
The 2020 Census can be filled out online at my2020census.gov, over the phone at 844-330-2020 or by mail.