The U.S. Census Bureau’s Update Leave operation ended early June in North Dakota, jumping the state's self-response numbers to 61.5% which is slightly lower than the national average of 61.7%

Burleigh County continues to lead the way in North Dakota counties with 75.3% Morton County is second at 69.4%.

With 63% of residents having completed their census form, Stark County has a better response rate than any of its neighboring counties but Morton, which has a response rate of at 69.4%.

To view the latest response rates, please click here.

Now that Update Leave has been completed, in which residents without a physical mailing address are hand-delivered a census form, Bureau workers will begin training for their non-response follow up. This operation – when Census workers go door to door to visit households that have not completed the Census – is scheduled to begin August 11.

Included in this process is the tracking down of college students who are no longer on campus, including those who moved out of the dorms due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Off-campus students

The U.S. Census Bureau is reaching out to colleges and universities with significant off-campus student populations to help ensure they are counted in the right place in the 2020 Census. Last week, Director Dr. Steven Dillingham sent a letter to college and university presidents asking them to provide roster information for off-campus students. This information allows the Census Bureau to count the students where they would have been staying on April 1, 2020, even if they went home early due to a school closure or shift to distance learning. You can read the letter here.

With many students having left their college campuses because of school closures before census questionnaires were delivered, the Census Bureau needs help counting students where they would have been living and sleeping as of April 1, 2020.

The Census Bureau asked college and university presidents for assistance in counting students who may not have responded on their own by sharing basic demographic information already provided to the university for off-campus students. Census Bureau staff began calling school officials June 16, and at a minimum will request full name, date of birth, and local and alternative addresses.

"Generally, universities have both their (students) temporary address and their permanent mailing address," said Kevin Iverson, census office manager, North Dakota Department of Commerce.

By having access to this information, the Census Bureau can help ensure college students are counted in the right place, including removing duplicate responses to the census or to count the student (if there is no other record of the same individual in another location). As with all information the Census Bureau collects, this personal information is protected by law.

"I kind of use my own experience, because when I was in the Army in Colorado, I considered myself a North Dakotan, and if you would have asked me where I'm from, I would have told you North Dakota, but the reality is I was spending the vast majority of my time in Colorado," Iverson said. "The reason that's important is because when I left, somebody else probably came here. When we look at Dickinson State ... when those individuals leave, somebody else comes and takes their place, and those individuals are the ones driving on the roads and using the sewer system ... Those communities need that funding in order to support that population, too."

Homeless populations also use those services.


The U.S. Census Bureau has announced the new schedule for counting people experiencing homelessness. The operation was originally scheduled for March 30-April 1, but it was postponed due to COVID-19.

From September 22-24, the Census Bureau plans to send specially-trained census takers to count people at shelters, soup kitchens, regularly scheduled mobile food vans, and locations previously identified by the Census Bureau where people are known to sleep outdoors (like under bridges) and at all-night businesses (such as transit stations and 24-hour laundromats).

"Those individuals are using goods and services in the area. In many cases, much of the funding stream that supports shelters and so on comes from the federal government," Iverson said. "That's all based on census data, so it becomes really critical to make sure you count that population also."