FILE - Dick Durbin

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois.

Illinois’ Congressional delegation is concerned that the U.S. Census may not get everyone when the agency tallies Illinois’ population next year. 

Led by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, Illinois’ Congressional delegation sent the director of the U.S. Census a letter asking about the agency's plan to centralize head counting efforts and rely more on phone calls and emails to get resident information than traditional methods, such as hiring local workers to knock on doors. 

Durbin wrote in the letter that “local hiring efforts are imperative in understanding and building trust within hard-to-count communities, and they are more proficient in assisting their own community members to complete the Census questionnaire.”

Census officials have said earlier this year that the booming economy has made it difficult to find workers.

Anita Banerji, director of the democracy initiative at Forefront Illinois, said a lack of “boots on the ground” for the coming Census could mean undercounts of rural and minority residents, leading to less federal funding. 

“Illinois is one of three states with the most to lose from an undercount, the reason being is that we’ve had considerable outmigration,” she said, adding that fewer face-to-face interactions would be “taking away that sense of person-to-person contact that I think is necessary in such a big roll-out.”

People may be skeptical of someone claiming to be with a government agency asking for personal information over the internet or phone because of widespread scams, Banjeri said.

A Census official told reporters on a call last week that the agency plans to hire 40,000 workers to reach hard-to-contact populations, Crain's Chicago Business reported.

This comes on the heels of a hard-fought legal battle over President Donald Trump’s effort to include a citizenship question on the Census, which was shot down by a federal court in Manhattan earlier this year. 

Staff Reporter

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois government and statewide issues for The Center Square. He has produced radio shows for stations in Bloomington/Normal and Peoria, and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.