McCracken County households are still tracking ahead of the state of Kentucky when it comes to 2020 U.S. Census response rates.

As of Monday, the county has a 68.3% self-response rate compared to 64.1% for the state as a whole. McCracken ranks 24th of Kentucky’s 120 counties and Kentucky ranks 14th in the country, according to census.gov. The city of Paducah is at 64.8%. Overall, the U.S. sits at 60.5% or 89.5 million households.

Helene Kramer Longton, a Census media specialist for the Philadelphia region, which includes Kentucky, described the local response rates as pretty good so far.

“An 80% response is considered excellent,” she told The Sun.

“There’s one county in Kentucky that’s very close to that, Oldham County outside of Louisville, but if the Census gets an 80% or so response in most counties, that would be considered good actionable data.”

Longton added that 100% is ideal, but may not be realistic.

Meanwhile, McCracken County Judge-Executive Craig Clymer pointed out Tuesday that roughly a third of the population hasn’t responded to the Census.

“I think it’s kind of sad that’s a good number, considered a good number,” he said. “Almost a third of our population ... either not been contacted or they’ve chosen not to respond so far. It’s just critical that we get counted.”

The 2020 Census is important for cities, counties and states because the data informs billions of dollars in federal spending. It affects programs that communities use to improve quality of life, such as health care, education, the arts and highways — both building and repairing, Longton explained. It also informs the number of representatives states get in Congress.

“There’s a decennial Census every 10 years, and so, to figure out how each community gets its fair share, a Census is taken,” Longton said.

“The long and short of it is that every day people are born, people move and people pass away, so the Census has to figure out where households are in our country, broadly, and in our communities, specifically, to figure out how federal dollars will be allocated to those communities going forward and we’re talking about billions of dollars.”

U.S. Census Bureau extended the self-response phase from the end of July to Oct. 31 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Longton said the president is normally supposed to receive Census data by Dec. 31, but that’s pushed to April 2021.

People can fill out their household’s Census forms through the internet, by phone or through mail. McCracken County’s internet self-response rate is 54%, compared to 45.3% for Paducah. Visit census.gov for more information.

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