You asked, we answered. On February 10, the Cougs for Census team published a blog article about Pullman’s low response rate of participation in the United States Census.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Response Outreach Area Mapper, 35.2% of Pullman residents do not participate in the U.S. Census. A normal low response score is 20%, and a low response rate of 30% or more is considered critically low.
The primary reason for the low response rate is because Pullman is home to many hard-to-reach audiences that were indicated by the Census Bureau. These audiences include college students, renters and female heads-of-households.
Let's break it down by audience:
1. College students
Washington State University currently has over 30,000 students across undergraduate and graduate programs. Students make up a large portion of residents in Pullman, and while their time in Pullman is temporary, they spend most of their year here.
According to the State of Washington’s Office of Financial Management in 2018, Whitman County had the lowest median age across the state at 24.4 years old. This is most likely due to the large proportion of students in the County. Being that most students are 18-22 years old, most current WSU students were only 8-12 years old during the last Census in 2010.
The U.S. Census has not occurred nor been mentioned in a decade, and students are having to learn about and participate in the Census for the first time this year.
With most students at WSU being from other parts of the state, country or the world, this means that most students are also renters. According to the U.S. Census Reporter, 73% of properties in Pullman are renter-occupied.
With a huge proportion of transient student renters, students are often clueless when knowing how to count themselves. Most would believe that they count under their parents as a dependent, or since they aren’t permanent residents of Pullman, they think don’t count.
That couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The Census counts you depending on where you sleep most nights. Students just need to be educated on how to count themselves accurately.
3. female heads-of-households
According to the U.S. Census Reporter, five percent of households in Pullman have a female as the primary income provider. We conducted in-depth questionnaires in January to ask female heads-of-households in Pullman about their outlook on the Census, and not much is known among the audience.
When asked about their awareness of the Census and its impact, all respondents said that they have little to no knowledge about the Census.
While they had little knowledge about the Census, their involvement in the community is really high. Most respondents reported that they regularly participate in events at the Neill Public Library in Downtown, as well as farmer’s markets, the annual Lentil Festival, among others.
Some respondents also noted that they have children attending the Pullman School District, or they have children in daycare programs.
Funding for local community programs and education are fueled by the Census, and if female heads-of-households are getting their families to be involved in the community, they have an opportunity to represent themselves.
Now this is where we step in. Our campaign is dedicated to educating, motivating and empowering the Pullman community to participate in the Census. It’s time we change our response rate and become a community that is accurately represented!
Visit our ‘Why Census’ page to find out more on how you can count in the 2020 Census!