EDINBURG – Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez strongly urged residents to complete the Census after U.S. Department of Commerce officials announced Friday they were officially extending the deadline to Oct. 31.

“We have been given a second chance,” Cortez said in a news release. “The response rate for households in Hidalgo County appears to be lower this year than a decade ago – and that’s bad news for us.”

As of Friday, Hidalgo County had a response rate of 54.1%. A decade ago, the response rate was 55.9%.

This year, the county’s response rate is much lower than the state and national average, which stand at 62.4% and 66.6% respectively.

“This may seem like a slight decrease in percentage, but it could translate into the loss of tens of thousands of dollars in federal funding for schools, highways and other infrastructure,” Cortez said.

He reminded residents who are reluctant to fill out the form that the Commerce Department is forbidden to share personal information with law enforcement and uses the information only to compile a snapshot of this county’s demographics.

“Factors that are measured include how old our population is, how well educated it is, and how many people are living in households throughout the county,” the release stated. “This information all helps in economic development, federal aid, and giving voice to Hidalgo County at the state and national level.”