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“Come to Your Census” promotion shows increase in census participation in some tracts

Preliminary results of the “Athens Come to Your Census” promotion show that the 210 people who participated represent 900 citizens of Athens.

On Sept. 14 the city of Athens announced the “Athens Come to Your Census” promotion, a census participation raffle in which the winner will receive merchandise from uptown Athens shops. 210 people participated in the raffle, representing themselves and those living in their homes in the 2020 census.

On the Google Form that was used to enter the raffle there was a question regarding residency and student status, City Planner Paul Logue said.

Although the data from the promotion has not yet been fully cleaned and no winners have been announced, both Logue and Athens Mayor Steve Patterson are pleased with the results thus far. 

“All things considered, I was very, very pleased with our outcomes. I'm disappointed that the Census Bureau on the Supreme Court ruled that they could shut down early, we were really hoping to be able to go all the way until October 31. There's no doubt that if we had extra time that there'd be more completion and that goes across the country,” Logue said.

The self-report percentage within two census tracts in Athens has gone up since the 2010 census, according to the census bureau website. Tract 9733, which represents the southeast side of Athens, had a self-response percentage of 69.7% in 2010 and a response percentage of 73.2% this year. Tract 9730, which represents the north side of Uptown Athens, had a self-response percentage of 69.6% in 2010 and a response percentage of 70.5% this year.

However, although some tracts have increased, the others in Athens have seen a decrease in self-response percentage since 2010.

To that end, the city is considering running this promotion again in the next census year, but will also consider using the original idea of a “census fest,” Logue said. There is also a consideration of using both a big promotion such as a census fest and a small promotion such as the one used this year, Patterson said.

“At least with this generation of students, you know there's there's always been a real love of Athens from OU students, of course uptown is very important part of that,” Logue said, “and the experiences that students have as young people is with nightlife and the bar scene and the restaurants and the coffee shops all of those things ... and it's something that we know that people, that alumni, love about Athens and that they about miss this place and (is) so appealing to that sense of what they loved about Athens. I think we hit that sweet spot.”

Patterson said he did see an increase in student census tracts, despite the lag in other tracts. Even in 2010 the response percentage in Athens was low, motivating the city to continue planning events and promotions to help boost responses. 

Promotion results and the winner should be out within the next few weeks, whereas overall census data will not be out until a few months from now.

Logue said that after the Census Bureau tabulates its results, the census data should be released in early 2021.

“We will have Census Bureau updated numbers on population counts for the city of Athens in the state of Ohio and in the US, so it's always interesting to see what actually happened,” Logue said. 


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