More than half of Callaway County residents have responded to the 2020 census, according to the United States Census Bureau.
With 59.8 percent of Callawegians having responded as of Tuesday, based on census data and population estimates, the county is slightly ahead of Missouri's statewide response rate of 58.5 percent. The county has the 28th highest response rate of Missouri's 112 counties.
In 2010, only 66.1 percent of Callawegians self-responded to the census.
Within the county, response rates vary by city. Holts Summit leads the pack at 63.1 percent, while Kingdom City is at 47.8 percent. Fulton falls somewhere in the middle at 58.3 percent.
The 2020 census is the first in which respondents have the option to respond via the internet. Tech-savviness appears to vary by city, as well: Just under half of respondents in Kingdom City responded over the internet (rather than over the phone or in-person), compared to nearly 90 percent of respondents in Holts Summit.
According to the Missouri Complete Count Committee, it's vital every Missourian participate in this once-a-decade, countrywide effort. The 2020 census will determine how the federal government allocates vast amounts of funding — funding that pays for everything from Head Start programs to WIC and SNAP to highway construction to child abuse and domestic violence prevention grants, and more. (For a full list, visit bit.ly/2X0CoR9.)
"We have projects in Fulton almost every year that wouldn't get done if not for matching federal and state funds," Fulton Mayor Lowe Cannell said in late March. "We depend on census to maximize what city can do for the next 10 years."
For every state resident who isn't counted, Missouri receives $1,300 less in federal dollars per year, the census committee estimated. Spread across the 10 years until the 2030 census, that's $13,000 per person. The census is also used for adjusting and redrawing electoral districts and reallocating electoral college votes based on how populations have changed. Missouri lost a seat in the U.S. Congress after the 2010 census showed a drop in St. Louis' population.
Callaway County's response rate puts it ahead of or on par with most of its neighbors. Here are the response rates of the county's neighbors as of Wednesday (the most recent numbers available at publication).
- Osage County: 43.8 percent
- Montgomery County: 49.7 percent
- Gasconade County: 50.4 percent
- Audrain County: 59.6 percent
- Boone County: 61.1 percent
- Cole County: 66.6 percent
You can further explore the response rate data at 2020census.gov/en/response-rates.
How to respond
During the 2010 census, respondents could submit their answers via mail or over a toll-free telephone line. Additionally, census takers made in-person visits to households that failed to respond. This year, for the first time ever, households have the option of filling out the survey online at my2020census.gov. Responding by mail or over the phone by calling 844-330-2020 are also options.
Fulton residents and those in the surrounding area should have received an invitation to respond via mail sometime from March 12-20. Those who haven't yet responded may also have received a reminder letter or postcard. If your household did not receive an invitation to respond, you can still go to my2020census.gov and complete the census.
Respondents should provide answers that are accurate as of April 1. This year's questions ask about how many people are living or staying in the household; whether the residence is owned or rented; the name, age and race of each occupant; whether each occupant is temporarily staying at the residence or lives there; and how the occupants are related to each other.
Though the federal government contemplated including a question about citizenship, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled doing so would violate federal law.