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Volunteers weather the storm to boost Michigan's census numbers

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

The push is on in Michigan to get as many people counted as part of the U.S. Census as possible.

In Saginaw Wednesday, that meant standing in the rain.

“Did you all fill out your censuses...” a volunteer at a food giveaway in Saginaw patiently asked each driver in a very long line of cars about filling out their U.S. Census forms.

“We can’t afford to have our numbers decrease,” says Lillie Grays, the executive director of the Saginaw County Community Action Center.

Along with packages of cereal, meat and other assorted foodstuffs, volunteers stood under a tent and inside the center’s building ready to help Saginaw residents fill out their census forms.

Grays says getting as many people as possible to fill out their census forms is “critical.”

“We want to make certain everybody is counted because it affects us for ten years,” says Grays.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Michigan’s 2020 census self-response rate (69.6%) has already surpassed its final 2010 response rate.  Michigan ranks fifth nationally and is well above the national self-response average.

But still it’s estimated that roughly 30% of Michiganders have not responded to the census.

The government uses census data to determine spending on social service programs, among other things.  

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Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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