Solano EDC helps to boost census numbersJune 26 2020
In part due to agency’s outreach efforts, Vacaville has already exceeded 2010 figures as compared to the county, state and national numbers
By Richard Bammer | firstname.lastname@example.org | Vacaville Reporter
PUBLISHED: June 25, 2020 at 6:24 p.m. | UPDATED: June 25, 2020 at 6:25 p.m.
The 2020 census self-response rate in Vacaville has already exceeded 2010 figures as compared to the county, state and nation, numbers that may be due in part to outreach efforts by the Solano Economic Development Corporation.
By noon Thursday, when census figures were updated, the national self-response rate was 61.7 percent; the state’s 62.8 percent; the county’s 67.4 percent; and Vacaville’s 71.2 percent, the latter number three-tenths of a percentage point above the 2010 headcount.
“We are the closest county in the Bay Area right now exceeding our 2010 numbers,” Alaina Gjertsen, a spokeswoman for the Fairfield-based EDC, advised in an email on Wednesday.
With COVID-19 cases again on the rise, the EDC, the public-private partnership that works to attract business, commerce and jobs to Solano County, is “pushing hard” to boost the self-response rates by July’s end, she added. The constitutionally mandated once-every-decade national headcount count, including in-person visits to households that do not respond, continues until Oct. 31, extended from July 31, because of the pandemic.
“We also know with the health crisis that there could be reluctance to open the door to someone you don’t know right now,” Gjertsen said. “We want to make sure to count every possible household by mail, phone and online that we can, to limit the number of house calls that need to be made.”
In a brief telephone interview Thursday, Bob Burris, president and CEO of the EDC, cheered Vacaville’s numbers, saying, “Participation has been great.”
The good-news numbers, he added, have a lot to do with the corporation’s countywide outreach activities, which began months ago but have been scaled back for the past several months.
Noting one example, Burris, who has directed the EDC for more than two years, cited outreach with Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs, founded in 2001 by Vacaville residents and business owners C.C. and Regina Yin and headquartered in Sacramento.
“It gave us a chance to talk with their young interns about the census and the importance of the census,” he said of the APAPA, which seeks to empower Asian and Pacific Islander citizens through education, leadership and participation in civic and public affairs.
State and federal census leaders try to make it as easy as possible to respond to the census, said Burris, pointing out that census materials and information are available in 10 languages at the state level: English, Spanish, Tagalog, Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, Hindi, Vietnamese, Thai, and Farsi. At the federal level, materials are available in 20 languages.
But the pandemic forced the EDC’s census outreach activities “to really switch gears, causing, for instance, the suspension of census questionnaire assistance centers”” at Solano Community College and at county library branches.
To augment the state and federal census efforts, the EDC, said Burris, tries to reach the public by telephone, online or by postal mailers. Staff especially tries to make contact with hard-to-count populations, among them those without online connections, with language barriers, lack of accurate information, and age. For whatever reason, children under 5 are not universally being counted by some households, he added.
Burris conceded that some households experience “anxiety about the federal government knocking on your door” and mistakenly believe an enumerator, or census-taker, will inquire about immigration status. (They do not, as required by law).
“There’s still time respond and it’s really easy to respond” to the census questionnaire, via online, by phone of by printed questionnaire, said Burris, adding that most questions can be answered by visiting www.2020census.gov.
Additionally, there are still census-taker jobs available in Solano County, with pay starting at $21 per hour and schedules are flexible, he said.
Anyone interested in becoming an enumerator may call the EDC at 864-1855 or visit www.2020census.gov/jobs for more information.
Solano County’s response rate likely will exceed the 2010 rate, Jeffrey Enos, the census deputy regional director for the Western states and Alaska and Hawaii, told The Reporter earlier this year.
At the time, Enos noted Sacramento, Solano and Yolo counties were ranked eighth through 10th out of the state’s 58 counties in response rates and Fairfield was 31st of all cities and towns in California with populations between 100,000 and 300,000.
Enos said the No. 1 reason for Solano’s response rate was “our census partners,” a reference to local governments, community-based organizations like the Solano EDC, local media outlets and nonprofits.
He emphasized the importance of everyone responding to the census, as required by law, because “trillions of dollars are at stake (over 10 years),” saying the Census Bureau provides the data to Congress, which then distributes the money to communities for such things as infrastructure projects, public safety, schools, fire departments, and the planning of new homes and businesses, among other things.
The census also determines apportionment, or a community’s representation in the House of Representatives.