Pew Poll: 2-in-5 Non-Respondents Not Willing to Answer Door for Census Workers

This March 23, 2018 photo shows an envelope containing a 2018 census test letter mailed to a resident in Providence, R.I. The nation's only test run of the 2020 Census is in Rhode Island, and its drawing concerns from community leaders, good government groups and others about how it's being …
AP Photo/Michelle R. Smith

Forty percent of Americans who have not responded to the census are not willing to answer the door for a census worker during the Coronavirus pandemic, according to a Pew Research national survey released this week.

The survey of 4,708 U.S. adults, conducted June 16 to 22, also found that non-respondents “are disproportionately likely to be from groups the census has struggled to count accurately in previous decennial census collections, including the Black and Hispanic populations.”

As Pew noted, the Census Bureau had planned follow-up visits to non-responding households in early May, but those visits “were delayed by a freeze on census field operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Center for Urban Research at the City University of New York reportedly discovered that “based on local-level response rates published by the Census Bureau, heavily Black or Hispanic neighborhoods have lower participation rates so far than heavily white neighborhoods.”

In addition, the research found that “adults ages 18 to 29 also are less likely to say they have participated than adults in each older age group,” and “a little over half of young adults (56%) say they or someone else in their household returned the census form, compared with 76% of adults ages 30 to 49 and even higher shares in age groups older than that.”

Census workers reportedly “began knocking on doors of these households earlier this month in six regional areas, and the bureau plans to expand its follow-up operation to communities nationwide in August.” These efforts will reportedly conclude on September 30.

Census workers visiting non-respondents “are required to wear masks and to stand outside when conducting interviews.”

The Census Bureau’s “nonresponse follow-up plan requires census workers to make at least one attempt to reach each household that has not responded,” and “if no one answers the door, and the bureau determines the home is occupied, census workers may try to get information about people living there from proxy respondents, such as neighbors, or from other government records.”

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