2020 census comes with changes, challenges - especially in rural Utah

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2020 census comes with changes, challenges - especially in rural Utah (Photo: KUTV)

Getting an accurate count during the census means more federal funding for the state and local communities. But there are parts of Utah that are notoriously under-counted.

In 2020, the days of a census survey delivered to your door will be a thing of the past for most people.

“This will be a unique census. It will be different than it has ever been. The primary response will be an online response," said Evan Curtis, a state census planning coordinator, and co-chair of the state's complete count committee.

And cash is on the line when it comes to getting an accurate count— federal funding makes up 27% of Utah's budget.

“It's how we disperse our state sales taxes, it's how we disperse our road funding to local communities as well," Curtis said.

Areas with low response rates or less internet access will still receive surveys through the mail or from a census taker. But tracking people down in person can be harder than you'd think

For urban areas, that's due partly to a high number of renters. Outside of cities, remote areas make counting tough.

Some of the state's most under-counted spots: Parts of South Salt Lake, with around a 45% response rate, and part of Tooele, which has a response rate of approximately 34%, according to the Census Bureau.

That return rate surprised Erica Black, who recently moved to Tooele.

“I don't know, either, my neighborhood is pretty vocal. Everybody talks to each other," she said.

But she said there are outliers that could be easy to miss.

“There are houses really far east and really far west that have bigger properties and are more rural. They keep to themselves a lot," Black said.