Secretary of State Tahesha Way, chair of the New Jersey Complete Count Commission, is urging New Jersey residents who have not yet completed the 2020 Census to do so quickly, as Census takers have begun visiting households statewide who have not yet responded.

Census in-person employees, or enumerators, are local residents who have been hired and trained to interview residents and capture a more accurate count for the decennial Census. Enumerators will follow up with households who have not yet completed the 2020 Census online, over the phone or through mail, and will carry a valid ID badge with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date.

While enumerators will wear a mask and have completed a virtual COVID-19 training on social distancing and other health and safety protocols before beginning their work in neighborhoods, residents can minimize the chance of an in-person visit by quickly responding to the Census online, over the phone or by mail.

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“Now more than ever, an accurate Census count is critical for our ability to receive federal funds for programs that impact every community across our state,” said Gov. Phil Murphy. “If you have not yet done so, we urge you to complete the 2020 Census and make sure you are counted.”

“We have been hard at work over the last several months, even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, working with County and local governments, nonprofit organizations, community stakeholders and more to spread the word about the importance of the Census,” said Secretary Way. “But now is the time for all hands on deck. We need all New Jersey residents to fill out the Census today to ensure we receive our fair share of the federal funding we will so desperately need over the next decade, especially as our state recovers from the pandemic.”

While New Jersey’s self-response rate – 66.3 percent as of August 23 – exceeded the national average of 64.4 percent, many areas considered “hard-to-count” have been undercounted thus far in their self-response rates, including Atlantic City (41.9 percent), New Brunswick (43.7 percent), Camden (46.7 percent), Newark (46.8 percent), Asbury Park (48.7 percent), Paterson (50.2 percent) and Jersey City (51.5 percent).

“Many of our hard-to-count areas are home to marginalized groups including African-Americans, Latinos and immigrants.  If they are undercounted, these groups could be underrepresented in government, and lose out on crucial federal funding for education, health care, community programs and more,” said Secretary Way. “If they are undercounted it affects all of us. That’s why we need everyone to fill it out now, and why we’re asking community stakeholders to help us spread the urgent news about the critical importance of the Census to these hard-to-count areas.”

Responses from the 2020 U.S. Census help determine where more than $45 billion in annual federal funds to New Jersey goes to help with much-needed community improvements, including for clinics, schools, roads and more. Responses are also used to redraw legislative districts and determine the number of seats New Jersey has in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Census responses are safe and secure, as the U.S. Census Bureau is bound by federal law to keep Census responses confidential and use the data for statistics only, with any violation subject to a penalty of up to $250,000 and/or up to five years in prison. Under Title 13 of the U.S. code, the Census Bureau is prohibited from sharing personal information with other organizations and government agencies, including employers, landlords, police, courts, FBI or ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

The 2020 Census is open to all households to complete online at 2020CENSUS.GOV, over the phone by calling 844-330-2020 and by paper through the mail. Residents who do not have their unique 12-digit number, received on a Census invitation mailed to their home, can still complete the Census online at 2020CENSUS.GOV.

For more information, visit CENSUS.NJ.GOV.

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