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Work has begun in preparing for the 2020 U.S. Census in Cole County, the Cole County Commission was told Tuesday.

Michael Amantea with the Census office in Chicago told Cole County commissioners Tuesday workers began canvassing neighborhoods Aug. 1. He said the workers have badges identifying themselves and they have told law enforcement officials about the efforts.

The Census workers are canvassing neighborhoods now to ensure addresses are correct for maps that Census takers will use when they go door-to-door next year.

The main issue the commission needs to consider soon, Amantea said, is creation of a group of county residents who would work to promote participation in the Census. A separate committee will be formed for Jefferson City.

"Cole County has a rate that is 6 percent higher than the national participation average, but it could be even better," he said. "There are a few areas in Jefferson City and in the county where we would like to see more response, but we believe these are areas where there are many rental properties and that usually means people moving in and out fairly regularly."

Amantea said this year would be the first time residents can fill out their Census form online. Forms can still be submitted by mail and by telephone, he said.

"There's just 10 questions, and it only takes three to four minutes to complete," he said. "This is vital information because it can mean more or less benefits for states, counties and cities. In the last Census, Missouri lost a congressional seat."

Amantea said the Census will be conducted for 45 days from mid-March to the beginning of May 2020. If a person hasn't completed a Census form after this period, then they will be contacted by a Census worker.

"We're still needing Census workers, and we hope that the county is willing to help get the word out that we need help," he said. "People can set their own hours to work at these jobs."

Amantea also said Census takers work to make sure information they receive is kept private.

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