Local census workers have almost reached their goal of counting Northeast Georgians and have a few more weeks in the field.
“This office covers 16 counties, and with more than 1,000 people in the field, we’re three-fourths of the way complete,” said Carol Zaremba, census office manager in Gainesville.
Zaremba said she couldn’t share specifics about how many residents have been reached in the field or what the initial goal was but stressed the importance of being a part of the count.
“Federal funding depends on the population, and we’re trying to make every effort to make sure every resident is counted,” she said. “It’s pretty simple with 10 questions that take 10 minutes.”
Census workers started going to homes on May 1 and are still focusing on all 16 counties.
“We try to enumerate when people would be home on evenings or weekends,” Zaremba said. “If not, workers will leave a notice of visit with a phone number that the resident can call so we can schedule a convenient time for the census taker to return.”
Phillippa Lewis Moss and Bill Lightfoot, co-chairs of the Hall County Complete Count Committee, pumped up publicity for the mail-in responses before handing the torch to Zaremba for door-to-door responses.
More Hall County and Northeast Georgia residents participated in the census this year than in 2000, according to data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau in April for mail participation. The mail participation rate for Hall County went up 3 percentage points to 75 percent.
Georgia as a whole was up one percentage point, to 70 percent, and nearly all of Northeast Georgia showed improvement. Oakwood saw the biggest participation gain, with a jump in 19 percentage points to 73 percent. Other cities with increases over the 2000 Census include Lula with 11 percentage points, Gillsville with 13 percentage points and Flowery Branch with 15 percentage points.
But not all areas saw their numbers go up.
Gainesville saw a decline of 1 percentage point in participation rate to 68, and Moss indicated this matched nationwide figures that saw a drop in urbanized areas. Final rates that include late mail returns and door-to-door visits will be posted in the fall.