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Islands, Cape Have State's Lowest Census Response Rate

U.S. Census Bureau
This map shows the rate of self-response (by phone, mail, or online) to the U.S. Census on the Cape and Islands, as of Sept. 16. Census workers collect additional responses in person if homeowners do not respond.

The U.S. Census deadline comes in less than two weeks, on Sept. 30, and many local residents haven’t responded, especially on the Islands.

Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard have the lowest Census response rates in Massachusetts. Fewer than one-third of island households have filled it out. Cape Cod is next, with only half responding.

Jeff Behler, regional director at the Census Bureau, tells CAI that people who own a summer home may not realize they’re supposed to respond for that address, not just their primary residence.

“And when they fill it out, they need to put that zero people usually live there,” he said.

“Well, typically — again, people just don't think about doing that.”

Census workers have to make multiple attempts to find someone who can verify that the housing unit is vacant or seasonal.

The population count from the Census determines the number of seats each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives. Massachusetts lost a seat after the 2010 Census.

The count also influences the distribution of public money for a variety of federal and state programs.