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Oxford’s 2020 census response 14.5% below state average

The coronavirus has taken the nation’s attention over the past two months, but there are still important events happening this year.

One of the biggest is the 2020 census, which is a national count of residents in the country every 10 years. In the initial stage of response, Oxford is currently way behind Mississippi’s average.

As of last week, Oxford was 14.5 percent below the state average in completed census forms and ranked third in major Mississippi college towns. Oxford has a response rate of 33.9 percent, which is behind Hattiesburg’s response rate of 46.1 percent and Starkville’s 45 percent rate.

Oxford ranks 194 out of 295 cities in Mississippi with population under 55,000.

City officials are urging residents to fill out this year’s Census form as soon as possible, as it helps with funding for education and other key areas.

“The U.S. Census is so very critical for our community,” Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill said. “We’ve got to get these census forms filled out. It takes less than three minutes to complete. Especially with a crisis like we have now, where we will be trying to secure federal funds, it’s so important that our numbers be accurate.”

Lafayette County is also behind the counties where University of Southern Mississippi and Mississippi State are located with a response rate of 39.7 percent. Forrest County, where Hattiesburg is located, had a near 50 percent response rate at 49.2 and Oktibbeha County had a 42.9 percent rate as of last week.

The highest ranking communities have a response rate over 60 percent. Madison has a response rate of 67.2 percent.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the deadline to fill out this year’s Census form has been moved to August. Forms were mailed out to each household last month, and for the first time, residents can fill out Census forms online at my2020census.gov.

The household count should include anyone living at the address as of April 1 of this year.