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Baltimore Census Response Rates Below State And National Rates

Patrick Semansky/AP PHOTO

More than halfway through the year of the 2020 Census, barely half of Baltimore residents have responded to the decennial survey, well below the rates for Maryland and the nation.

Fernando Armstrong, a regional Census Bureau director, says only 52.5% of Baltimoreans have responded, compared to Maryland’s rate of 66.6% and the national response rate of nearly 63%.

Armstrong says it’s not unusual for census response rates in larger cities to trail behind national rates. 

“We have local officials, including the mayor's office, that are very involved in getting the message out about the importance of the census,” he said. 

Armstrong said that responding to the census is critical to ensuring that lower-income communities get the funding they need. 

“Having a good census in 2020 will ensure that for the next 10 years, our neighborhoods, our schools, our hospitals have the funding that they need.”

He also stressed that respondents’ information is confidential and secure. 

“It’s a civic duty,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do for the state, for our family, for our neighborhood.”


People can respond to the census online or over the phone by calling 844-330-2020. The Census Bureau will be seeking responses in-person for those who do not respond.  


“We're going to be knocking on doors to complete the census at the door with those people that need help,” Armstrong said. 

Census field workers will be wearing badges and ID. They’ll also wear masks and observe social distancing. 


An earlier version of this post misstated that in-person counting will take place after the self-response deadline.

Sarah Y. Kim is WYPR’s health and housing reporter. Kim is WYPR's Report for America corps member, and Anthony Brandon Fellow. Kim joined WYPR as a 2020-2021 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. Now in her second year as an RFA corps member, Kim is based in Baltimore City.