After previously stating the census would run through Oct. 31, the bureau announced on Monday it was cutting the count short by a month, moving up the deadline for responding to Sept. 30.
The October cutoff had offered organizers crucial overtime for the count after the coronavirus pandemic derailed a ground game for canvassing and outreach efforts that in some regions of the state had been in the works for years. Now, the earlier deadline is heightening risks that Texas will be undercounted and that some Texans, particularly those who are low-income or Hispanic, will be missed in the count as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage their communities.
The schedule change comes at a key point in the count. The bureau has started its door-to-door campaign to follow up with households that have not yet filled out the census online, by phone or by mail, but census workers won’t reach some communities in Texas that are at the highest risk of being missed until next week.
If the census is carried out properly, Texas should post huge population gains since 2010 with more than 3.8 million new residents, according to the bureau’s latest estimates. Those estimates indicate Hispanics will account for more than half of that growth.
Months into the count, not even 3 out of every 5 households in Texas have responded to the census. The state’s 57.9% response rate puts it several points lower than the national average and at 39th place in rankings by response rates among states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
As of Monday, just one county — Jackson County on the Gulf Coast — had received responses to date at a rate equaling the 2010 count. Less than 10% of cities had reached that marker. And response rates were lower in census tracts with larger shares of Hispanic residents or those with more people living in poverty.
Source: Texas Tribune