HARLINGEN — Texas’s self-response rate for Census 2020 continues to lag behind most of the rest of the nation, while the Rio Grande Valley is trailing even the low numbers being produced statewide.
Lila Valencia, senior demographer at the Texas Demographic Center, said Monday in a Texas Counts online webinar that the state’s census response rate of 54.2 percent is being outstripped by other states.
“I wish I had better news to report, but Texas has actually dropped in the rankings to 41st,” she said. “We are now behind New York State. When Texas first started, when we first started collecting responses, we were at 42nd and then New York State got hit really, really bad from the COVID pandemic and we actually passed New York State to move up 41standwere moving up, but lately, this has actually started our slip. We have moved from as high I think as 38th and now we’re down to41.”
Minnesota leads the way in self-response rates with 69.5 percent of its households already having filed. The nation as a whole has a rate of 59.5 percent.
Following Minnesota are Wisconsin (67.0 percent), Iowa (66.5 percent), Michigan (66.2 percent, and Nebraska (66.1 percent.)
Below Texas are Hawaii (54.1 percent), Louisiana (53.9 percent), Oklahoma (53.3 percent), Montana (50.7 percent), Vermont (50.5 percent), Maine (49.9 percent) Wyoming (49.7 percent), West Virginia (47.1 percent), New Mexico (47.1 percent), Alaska (40.3 percent) and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (8.3 percent).
To counter the impact of the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Census Bureau has extended the date for self-response filings —either online or by mail — from July 31 to Oct. 31.
Households can either mail in the Census 2020 forms after filling them out, or can go online to file at https://2020census.gov/en.html
In the Rio Grande Valley, 41.7 percent of Hidalgo County’s households have filed. Cameron County is next at 41.2 percent of households responding, Starr County is at 31.1 percent and Willacy County is at 26.4 percent.
At stake for counties and cities in the Rio Grande Valley, which historically has been undercounted in previous census counts, are hundreds of millions of dollars in federal and state funds to be allocated on the basis of population over the next decade.
Among Cameron County’s larger cities, 47.5 percent of Brownsville’s households have self-reported for Census 2020, followed by Harlingen (45.5 percent) and San Benito (37.9 percent).
In Hidalgo County, Edinburg has had 50.3 percent of households reporting, followed by McAllen (49.5 percent), Weslaco (42.9 percent) and Pharr (41.6 percent).
“The good news is that our Texas counties continue to grow in some areas at a faster rate increase,” Valencia said. “We’re seeing really strong response rates from the Texas population triangle counties, as well as areas of the Panhandle with Randall and Lubbock counties.”
“We now have 64 counties that have more than a 50 percent-plus response rate,” she added. “They’ve passed that important milestone that they’re more than halfway through their enumeration for their housing units.”
Census Self-Response Rates by City
San Benito 39.9
Source: U.S. Census Bureau count as of May 16