Census workers hitting the streets to canvass homes

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Wilson County residents could begin to notice U.S. Census Bureau workers in their neighborhoods over the next couple of months.

Earlier this month, the agency launched its first major field operation of the 2020 Census — address canvassing.

“Address canvassing improves and refines the Census Bureau’s address list of households nationwide, which is necessary to deliver invitations to respond to the census,” according to the agency.

From now until Oct. 18, workers will be confirming the location of houses, apartments, shelters and other places where people might live.

Officials say it’s important to take a couple of minutes to answer their questions and not to be alarmed if census workers knock on your door.

The Census Bureau created new software that compares satellite images across the county over time, helping employees spot new housing developments, changes in existing homes and other housing units that didn’t previously exist.

Officials say they also use the software compare the number of housing units in current imagery with the number of addresses on file for each block. That’s why census employees have started walking through neighborhoods checking addresses not verified using that particular software.

“Canvassing is an extremely important part of the census process as they are verifying addresses,” said Assistant County Manager Ron Hunt. “From a safety perspective, we encourage citizens to look for the census ID badge, and you can ask for identification. In Wilson County, it’s crucial that census staff verify addresses prior to the complete count in April. It’s all a part of the census complete count process.”

While the 2020 census is months away, local and county officials are working to ensure everyone is counted.

By April 2020, households will have already received an invitation to participate in the census. People will have three ways to respond during the count: by phone, online or by mail. The official day for the count is April 1.

North Carolina’s overall census participation rate in 2010 was 76%, while Wilson County came in at 75%, according to national figures. Those participation rates actually increased from the 2000 census where the state and Wilson County came in at 69%.

If residents get a knock on the door during the address canvassing phase, here’s what to look out for:

• Canvassers will always have an official government U.S. Census Bureau badge with photo ID.

• They will also have an official bag that says Census 2020 and a laptop bearing the Census 2020 logo.