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The Census Bureau is ending efforts to count the country’s population on Sept. 30, a month sooner than planned, the bureau’s director announced Monday.

Only 63% of the nation’s estimated 121 million households have responded to the 2020 Census by mail or phone or online. The last-minute change to the timeline raise concerns about the accuracy of the count, which is used to determine representation in Congress and state legislatures.

The statistical information collected every 10 years is also the bedrock for federal and local policy decisions such as how much federal money states and cities receive, where to build water and sewer systems, where to locate fire departments, even such minutiae as how many first-grade teachers a school district should hire. Businesses and nonprofit groups use it to determine where to expand or contract.

Door-knocking by census takers will end Sept. 30, as will the option to respond by other methods. In order to obtain as many responses as possible by that date, the bureau will be hiring additional census takers and provide incentives for those who work the maximum hours possible.

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