With less than two weeks left to complete the census, North Carolina continues to lag behind other states in the once-in-a-decade count.
The latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that 89.3 percent of households have been accounted for - putting North Carolina among the button 10 states in terms of response. The national enumeration rate is 93.6 percent.
The count not only helps determine how more than $1.5 trillion in federal spending is distributed. It will also impact whether North Carolina gains another congressional seat.
Tim Olson, the associate director for field operations at the U.S. Census Bureau, says they have more than 3,000 workers in the field in North Carolina knocking on doors, checking in on the roughly four out of ten households that did not respond on their own.
“People in North Carolina are generally pretty open to a census worker’s visit. There's something about the population, they open the door,” Olson said, pointing to “Southern hospitality” as a potential reason.
The census has, at times, over the past year been at the center of political controversy.
At one point, the Trump administration unsuccessfully tried to add a citizenship question to the survey. While that move was blocked by the courts, it sparked concern in the Latino community.
In recent weeks there was more confusion, as the bureau announced they would wrap up the count a month earlier than previously indicated, leading to concerns of an undercount.
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Asked how the bureau can ensure the public that the count has been done fairly and accurately, Olson attempted to ease concerns.
“The people running the census are career civil servants. You know, there's certainly politics around us in every administration, but we are driving to a complete count of all persons, regardless of status, regardless of citizenship,” he said.
Olson stressed that answers on the census are confidential and cannot be used, for example, for law enforcement purposes.
The U.S. Census Bureau says they will wrap up the count by Sept. 30. To avoid receiving a visit from a census worker, complete the census by mail, over the phone, or online.