Detroit’s 37 Percent Census Response Rate Lags Southeast Michigan

Over half of Michigan residents have responded to the 2020 U.S. Census, mostly online. A Census official attributes Detroit’s 37 percent response to disruptions due to COVID-19.

More than 37 percent of Detroit households have responded to the 2020 Census by a April 1st self-report benchmark, putting the city ahead of efforts in Cleveland, Los Angeles and New York. 

But Detroit is currently below Michigan’s average response rate, which is nearly 52 percent, and it lags behind Southeast Michigan which has driven high response rates, according to Census data. In 2010, the last Census count, nearly two-thirds of Michiganders and more than half of Detroiters responded in the end. 

See census tract response rates below. 

The U.S. state average is a 45 percent response rate. Huntington Woods, a small city in Southeast Michigan, has a 78 percent response rate, making it fifth in the nation.

“We had almost 90 events planned for March and April and into May, obviously all of those are cancelled.” — Vicky Kovari, Detroit 2020 Census

Vicky Kovari, director of the city’s 2020 Census campaign, says getting Detroiters to take the census in person will be harder than usual this year.

“We had almost 90 events planned for March and April and into May, all of those are cancelled” due to COVID-19, said Kavari. 

Instead, the city is changing tactics by paying more for ads on cable and social media and recruiting volunteers to call their peers to urge them to fill out the Census.

Related: Full U.S. Census Response Rates, Listed by State, City

Michigan ranks third in the country for its response rate, right below Minnesota and Wisconsin, meaning that 2.5 million households in the state have responded to the Census so far. Most respondees are choosing to submit the form online. 

But Kovari says Detroit’s internet responses are among some of the lowest in the country. She says the city is rolling out a neighborhood Census challenge as response rate data becomes more available.

In particular, Detroit’s midtown and downtown have low response rates.

“Part of the reason is around Wayne State [University] in particular,” Kovari says. “Lots of students have left because their university closed down early. So that’s a big challenge for us.”

Detroit is urging students to fill in the Census at their usual April 1st residency. 

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  • Eli Newman
    Eli Newman is a Reporter/Producer for 101.9 WDET, covering breaking news, politics and community affairs. His favorite Motown track is “It’s The Same Old Song” by the Four Tops.