DCED’s Robust Outreach Helped Ensure a Complete Count in 2020 Census

99.9 percent of Pennsylvania households responded to the 2020 Census

Harrisburg, PA –  Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin announced today that initial data indicates that Pennsylvania outperformed many other states in terms of census form completions. Because of the outreach efforts undertaken by DCED, Pennsylvania’s self-response rate was 2.6 percent higher than the national average, and higher than all but two of our six neighboring states. Including self-responses and the Census Bureau’s non-response follow-up, 99.9 percent of Pennsylvania households responded to the 2020 Census.

“Led by Norman Bristol Colon, Executive Director of the Governor’s Census 2020 Complete Count Commission, Pennsylvania’s outreach efforts directly correlate to the overwhelming response received,” said Sec. Davin. “Over the past year and a half, we worked tirelessly to remind our communities that they count, and that they need to be counted. Pennsylvanians rose to the occasion, helping Pennsylvania to secure the resources we’ll need over the next ten years.”

DCED’s campaign to encourage residents to respond to the Census included: creating a grant program to help counties get the word out, partnering with sister agencies to target messaging to specific audiences, and creating a statewide earned and paid media campaign.

The media campaign was highly successful, generating more than 174 million digital impressions, nearly 355,000 clicks, and 30.7 million completed video views – which equates to roughly 2.4 completed video views for every Pennsylvanian. The campaign consisted of television, radio, out-of-home (billboards, public transit posters, etc.), lifestyle, print, and digital advertising.

In March 2020, DCED awarded nearly 90 community-based grassroots organizations and municipalities covering 53 counties with grant funding to help them reach out to hard-to-count communities. Despite the pandemic, these organizations found creative ways to get the word out, including:

  • The City of Lancaster partnered with the City of Reading to create weekly Census Facebook Live updates, radio talks and promotions, and other outreach focused on hard-to-count populations;
  • York-based CASA Pennsylvania launched a digital education campaign targeting Spanish- and English-speaking Latinx households in southcentral and southeast Pennsylvania, including organic and paid original ads, which achieved more than 2.4 million impressions on Facebook alone; and
  • The Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center launched an LGBT-focused digital campaign, a direct mail campaign, paid media ads, and virtual events like a town hall featuring Second Lady Gisele Fetterman and Rep. Malcom Kenyatta.

Last year, Second Lady Gisele Fetterman embarked on a statewide Census tour, where she met with hard-to-count populations to discuss the importance of participating in the Census during Q&A sessions and open panel discussions with local officials.

“I was grateful for the opportunity to meet so many Pennsylvanians and talk about the census,” said Second Lady Fetterman. “I think everyone appreciates knowing they matter, and I believe these numbers reflect that the message was delivered successfully.”

The United States Constitution requires a Census count once every 10 years to count every person living in the United States once and only once. The results of the 2020 Census help provide fair representation when determining congressional districts, policy, decision-making, and distribution of billions of dollars in federal funding that impacts the daily lives of Pennsylvanians over the next 10 years.

2020 marked the 22nd year of the United States Census.

For more information about the U.S. Census, visit the PA Census website, and be sure to stay up-to-date with all of our agency news on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Casey Smith, DCED, casesmith@pa.gov

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