ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska ranks last in U.S. Census responses that do not involve census takers making personal visits, including phone, mail or online participation, officials said.
The state has the lowest level of “self-response" so far during the 2020 Census, Alaska Public Media reported.
It had a rate of 49.5% by computer, phone or mail as of Sept. 1, while the national rate of self-response is 63%, census officials said.
Alaska’s overall response rate remains about 5% lower than in 2010.
“Some people are fearful or not trusting of the government. Some people just aren’t aware of the census or don’t think it applies to them,” U.S. Census Bureau spokesperson Donald Benz said.
The bureau has made an extra push to reach more Alaskans and remind residents the census is safe, easy and important, Benz said.
The count taken once every decade helps determine federal funding issued to states and the number of representatives each state has in Congress.
A Census Bureau map showed there have been low rates of self-response in most regions of Alaska.
Response rates were higher in Juneau and Anchorage, which were comparable to the national average, and somewhat lower in Fairbanks. Alaska communities with higher rates of self-response had more responses submitted online.
The Census Bureau announced last week that counting would finish a month early this year, on Sept. 30 instead of Oct. 31. The agency planned to hire more enumerators to complete the job quicker.
But on Saturday, a federal judge in California issued an order against the Census Bureau and the Commerce Department, which oversees the agency. The order stops the Census Bureau from winding down operations until a court hearing is held on Sept. 17.
The bureau has started the final push to complete the count in Alaska with census takers who have been hired locally, Benz said.
“It’s not like we’re going to be shipping people from California to Alaska to get this count," Benz said. “We’re hiring local people from the community.”