With just four weeks to go, North Carolina is lagging behind other states in the push to complete the census.

About a quarter of households across the state remain uncounted, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The bureau will stop collecting data on Sept. 30 - a month sooner than previously announced.

The once-in-a-decade count is pivotal, impacting how congressional districts are split up among the states and how $1.5 trillion in federal spending is distributed annually. North Carolina stands to potentially pick up an additional congressional seat during the next round of reapportionment.

As of Sept. 1, 77.1 percent of North Carolina housing units have been counted. That figure includes households that have self-responded online, by phone, or by mail plus those that have spoken to a census worker that knocked on their door.

The nation as a whole is doing better, with 84.1 percent of housing units already enumerated.

At 77.1 percent, North Carolina ranks among the bottom ten states in terms of survey completion rate, outpacing only Louisiana, South Carolina, Mississippi, Montana, Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, and New Mexico.

Households across North Carolina are also self-responding at a lower rate than the nation as a whole, according to the census bureau. While 61 percent of North Carolina households have already completed the survey by phone, online, or mail, nationally that figure stands at 65.1 percent.

The state is also falling short of the last census in 2010, when 64.8 percent of North Carolina households self-responded.

Census workers are currently in the field to speak to those that have not already participated, but time is of the essence.

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Rebecca Tippett, the director of Carolina Demography at UNC Chapel Hill, warns that without increased participation, there is a risk that some communities will not be accurately accounted for.

“For every housing unit that is not counted … the census bureau will use techniques - either statistical imputation or maybe taking characteristics from their nearest neighbor - to assign characteristics,” she said.

“That may actually work pretty well to capture community characteristics in some places. In other places, it may not,” she continued.

Tippett says she is keeping an eye on minority groups, military communities, areas with limited access to the internet, and college communities - populations where insufficient participation could cause things to be off.

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Census data collection is scheduled to continue through the end of September.

More information about completing the census can be found here.