So far, Big Island lagging behind in census responses

Most households in Hawaii County (and the state) have received one or more letters and possibly a postcard or two asking them to go online and respond to the 2020 Census.   The exception is those who have no physical address or have a Rural Route address, who will get their invitations to respond in June.

The census is  required by the United States Constitution.  On a practical basis, the Census is how the State and the County get funding from the Federal Government.  In a recent specific example, when Hawaii County was awarded $80 million from the Federal CARES Act funding, as part of the Hawaii State allocation to address COVID-19 and its challenges, Governor David Ige’s Chief of Staff, Linda Chu Takayama said the amount for Hawaii County was determined based on Hawaii County’s population according to the last census.  Federal funding, in addition to this special allocation, helps fund hospitals, QUEST, community health centers, children’s and senior programs, and more.  Having an accurate census count is critical.

As of May 27, 2020, 54.9% of Hawaii’s households have responded to the 2020 Census.  Hawaii’s self-response rate is ranked 40th in the nation among the states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, with about 320,000 of Hawaii households responding so far.  Hawaii County’s response is the lowest in the state, at 34.3%.

Many people with P.O. Boxes in Hawaii — or people without any physical mailing address– have not yet received their Census questionnaire.  The Census Bureau is currently asking households who have not yet received their invitations to wait until their invitations arrive in June before filling out their census forms online or over the phone, especially for households that have Rural Route addresses.

For those who did get letters, and haven’t responded yet…you may do so at

Below is a chart that gives more detail about response rate.

Geography 2020 Response Rate*
United States 60.2%
State of Hawaii 54.9%
Hawaii County 34.3%
Honolulu County 62.7%
Kalawao County 5.0%
Kauai County 43.3%

* As of May 27, 2020. The response rate is the percentage of all households that have responded to the 2020 Census so far. It is a preliminary figure that will differ from the final response rate because it includes vacant housing units.