Michigan makes final census push before deadline

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    As the deadline for completing the U.S. census draws near, there is good news and not-so-good news for Michigan.

    The good news is that the state as of Wednesday ranks tied for sixth in the nation in people who responded on their own to the census, up from 17th during the 2010 effort, according to Kerry Ebersole Singh, Michigan statewide census director.

    The not-so-good news is that pockets of state have a lower rate of completion. Overall, about 150,000 households have not been counted, which represents about $1.1 billion annually in federal funding. The national completion deadline is Sept. 30. 

    “These are resources that we’ve already paid to Washington, D.C., and that we need to get back,” Ebersole Singh said.

    Overall, Michigan’s self response rate is 70.8%, according to U.S. Census figures. Only Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Washington and Iowa have a higher rate. 

    Lansing, Detroit and northern Michigan regions lag in last-minute census push

    Ebersole Singh said that one in every four Wayne County residents have yet to be counted. The state’s most populous county has 1.7 million residents. That represents about $400 million annually in federal funding. Detroit, the county’s largest city, is focused on about 20,000 households that have yet to be counted. Ecorse, Hamtramck and Highland Park, all located in Wayne County, are still undercounted, as well.  

    For weeks, Detroit officials have encouraged residents to complete the Census online, by phone or at one of 30 kiosks located across the city.

    “We are hoping that Detroiters will see the urgency and importance of the Census and respond before time runs out,” Victoria Kovari, city of Detroit census director, said earlier this month. Detroit’s census response rate is at 48.9%.

    Flint, located in Genesee County, has about 2,500 households that have not been counted, which represents about $200 million annually to the city.

    Both Grand Rapids and Lansing each have about 6,000 people who have yet to complete the form. There are about 10,000 households in Northern Michigan that have yet to be counted. Ebersole Singh said that the Upper Peninsula still has “thousands of uncounted residents.”

    The “Be Counted” campaign also unveiled public service announcement video appeals to complete the 2020 census during the final week of the campaign. They include Miss Michigan and Bay City elementary school teacher Mallory Rivard, Detroit Tigers coach Ramón Santiago and others.  

    Ken Coleman
    Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.