Officials urge Illinoisans to fill out census


SPRINGFIELD — The deadline to fill out the census is less than three weeks away and state officials are making another push to urge Illinoisans to respond.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said a one percent undercount could result in the state losing more than $195 million in federal funds. Pritzker said Illinois is one of 10 states that pays more in federal taxes than it receives in federal funding.

Appearing with the governor in Normal on Wednesday, Grace Ho, the Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services, said every person can make a difference.

“Responses impact how federal funding will be distributed in your schools, community services that affect you like school safety, mental health services and programs,” Ho said.

Overall, among states with a population over 10 million, Illinois ranks first in total “enumeration,” or the percentage of households that have been counted in the census. The latest percentage was 92 percent.

Sherry Taylor, senior research specialist at Northern Illinois University, said there are pockets around the state with low response rates, such Hardin County with a 33.9 percent response rate. Other areas with low response rates include Calhoun County, Henderson County, the East St. Louis area and near Kankakee.

“There could be fewer folks that have been able to do a lot of outreach before the enumerators got on the streets through the use of what we call the “complete town” committee,” said Taylor.

The state has just 20 days to increase its response rates after the Trump administration shortened the deadline for reporting from the end of October to September 30, but Taylor said that could still change in the courts.

“Hopefully if we get this extension, that will give us extra time to really get into these small neighborhoods that really need a boost,” Taylor said.