Note: Though the Census Bureau extended the deadline for counting everyone in the U.S. by two weeks because of disruptions caused by the coronavirus, on April 14, the White House asked to extend the deadline for another 120 days. Congress will need to vote on the request for it to take effect.
Since we reported in February why it’s important to count every Idaho resident in the 2020 Census, the social isolation required to fight the coronavirus has made that task much more difficult. Across the state, community leaders are trying to encourage all residents to respond to the Census. They had planned to hold public meetings, meet with individuals from groups mostly likely to respond, and reach out to dispersed college students not living at home to ensure they would be counted to their hometowns.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the 2010 Census undercounted Idaho residents by 31,000. Each of those uncounted individuals cost Idaho’s state and local governments an estimated $2,100 in federal aid over 10 years.
Last year, tribes, cities, counties and nonprofit organizations throughout Idaho formed Complete Census Committees to mobilize historically hard-to-count groups to respond to the 2020 Census. Gov. Brad Little established a statewide committee last year to ensure Idaho would achieve a fair, accurate and complete Census count, with special emphasis on enumerating members of historically undercounted population groups. These committees developed strategies for getting the word out about the importance and ease of answering the census questions. By early March, the peak of their mobilization efforts, coronavirus concerns forced an end to the planned gatherings.