CHICAGO (CBS) — Long before COVID-19 hit the United States, the Census Bureau was making plans to count the population in 2020.
Even during the pandemic, the feds need an update on the national population. CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory visited one booming town in northwest Indiana that needs to be extra careful with its numbers, now that the novel coronavirus threw a wrench into plans.
Bree Deitzer is the new kid on the block, but she’s hardly the only one. Her family moved to a budding development about six months ago from Pittsburgh for her dad’s new job in Illinois.
“So my husband is in Harvey, so we looked in Frankfort and Mokena,” said her mom, Dana Deitzer.
Ultimately, they wound up across the border in St. John, Indiana.
Brooklyn Broomhead’s parents are also transplants. They left Chicago for these greener pastures about five years ago.
“There’s so much new construction going on. A lot of people I’ve heard coming from the city and starting families as well,” Amanda Broomhead said.
Despite data that shows people are moving out of Lake County, Indiana, sleepy St. John saw its population triple between 2005 and 2017, according to its comprehensive plan.
More and more people are coming. Town planners took a look at building permit data, and determined St. John’s population could almost double again in the next 20 years.
Now it’s time to make sure the federal government is aware of the anomaly here.
Developers could look the other way if they’re not seeing an accurate count by the U.S. Census Bureau. That count depends on every resident submitting their questionnaires.
“I think it’ll be good if everybody fills it out in St. John, because hopefully it’ll bring new businesses and new restaurants because i feel like it’s growing so much that they almost need to put more stuff here,” Dana said.
Federal funding for Brooklyn and Bree’s future school could also take a hit if St. John’s population is undercounted, and congressional representation could end up skewed too.
Census takers were scheduled to knock on doors to encourage the process starting next week, but COVID-19 delayed those efforts for three months.
“I will blast it on social media that everyone needs to start filling it out,” Amanda said.
The good news, less than 20% of the town’s info is missing right now, and the deadline for collecting Census data has been pushed back until Oct. 31.
You can fill out your Census questionnaire online, and the process only takes a few minutes.