At the start of the year, Guilford County and other area local governments put a great deal of importance on having everyone fill out the 2020 Census to make sure that local cities, the county and the state are represented fairly in Washington DC over the next decade.

However, the pandemic has thrown a huge bucket of water on those efforts so far this year.

Data and demographics information from the US Census Bureau’s 2020 Census Response Rate Map and American Community surveys shows that, as of Monday, July 20, Guilford County – while doing better than many counties in North Carolina – is trailing other high performers such as Orange County and Wake County. Those two counties currently have a 69.8 percent and 67.6 percent response rate respectively, while Guilford County’s rate is only 64.1 percent.

The state’s top performing county so far in turning in census forms Union County, where Monroe is the county seat and the population is less than half that of Guilford County. Across the state as a whole, the response rate is 58.3 percent.

There is a disparity in the Guilford County data when it’s broken down by neighborhoods – that is, by census tracts. In this county, predominately minority neighborhoods have been turning in reports at a lower rate than predominately white neighborhoods.

The response rates in the Guilford County are also varying by income level: Those with a median income of $75,000 to $100,000 have returned forms at just over 78 percent, whereas households with a median income of $35,000 to $50,000 have a response rate of 59 percent.

One reason local leaders are committed to as full a census response as possible is that, for the next decade, the count will be central to how much money area communities and governments receive from federal and other programs since many of those payouts are based on population.