Through Sunday, Missouri’s self-response rate for the 2020 census is slightly greater than the national average, and a few cities in Eastern Jackson County are well above the state average.


Missouri’s response rate is 49.4 percent compared to the national mark of 48.1 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.


Lee’s Summit has the highest area response rate at 62.6 percent, followed by Grain Valley at 60.2, Blue Springs at 58.8, Oak Grove at 52.3 and Raytown at 51.2. Independence’s response rate has been in between the national and state figures at 48.9 percent.


Overall Jackson County is at 47.3 percent, with Kansas City at 44.6.


The Census Bureau had planned to start in-person, follow-up visits with households in May, continuing through June, but that has been pushed back to start on May 28, with the final date for visits and self-responses now Aug. 14. Paper questionnaires started going out last Wednesday to households that had not yet responded by mail or phone or online.


In essence, census data provide snapshots of the nation, states and communities. The census helps determine federal funding for dozens or programs, ranging from school lunches, education and highway construction to emergency disaster relief, and also determines congressional seats and state and local representation boundaries. Municipalities and businesses use census data to guide a variety of planning decisions.


Because of local stay-at-home directives, area census assistance centers will not be available until at least April 23. In EJC, census assistance centers included the local Mid-Continent and Kansas City public library branches as well as Metropolitan Community College-Blue River.


The Census Bureau does have call centers to answer questions and respond to the survey in English and 12 additional languages. Information on that can be found at 2020census.gov/en.


According to the Mid-America Regional Council, experts estimated the country’s population was undercounted by 1 percent in the 2010 census – even higher for minorities. A similar undercount this year would mean a $48 million loss in the Kansas City region covering 16 federal programs, including $20.5 million in Jackson County.


Census forms and volunteers do not ask for Social Security, bank or credit card numbers, money, donations or anything on behalf of a political party, and census surveys do not include a citizenship question. By federal law, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about a person or their home or business, including to law enforcement agencies.