The deadline for filling out the 2020 US Census is quickly approaching, and although the Census Bureau has made it easier for people to be counted, response rates in some areas across the state are critically low.
A recent study by Population Reference Bureau, a national nonprofit, found that Hispanics-Latinos in Connecticut are filling out their Census applications at a lower rate than white people.
The self-response rate in Census tracts (federally defined neighborhoods within a municipality) where Black and Hispanic-Latino people make up the majority was 51 percent reported the Hartford Daily Voice. Where white people make up the majority, the response rate is 64 percent.
Of Connecticut’s counties, Windham, Litchfield, and New Haven counties have the worst response rates with about 64 percent of households responding from each area.
The COVID-19 pandemic that barreled into Connecticut in March created new challenges for the 2020 Census — issues that have impacted the difficulty and importance of producing an accurate population count in urban Latino communities.
SUGGESTION: COVID-19 hinders accurate Census count
The results of the Census directly determine the amount of funding communities will receive for the next ten years for important services to senior citizens, public education, heating assistance, road improvements, public transportation, police and fire departments, community block grants –the list goes on. For every person who is not counted, a city must cover the cost of these essential programs without the benefit of federal dollars.
For the first time ever, people can respond in any one of four ways. The first two response options are by an online survey or by calling a toll-free number. These two options will be available in 12 non-English languages. The languages used cover about 99% of the non-English speaking households in our country. In addition, the Census Bureau has created videos and printed instructional guides in an additional 59 non-English languages. There are only seven questions on the survey, so depending household size, it only takes a few minutes to complete the census.
If people had still not participated by early April, they would have received a paper questionnaire mailed to their home. So, the traditionalists have an opportunity to respond in writing and mail their survey back.
Finally, for those households that don’t respond online, or by the toll-free number, or the paper options, a friendly, locally hired census taker will come knocking on their door to collect the same information.
Despite all those efforts, Connecticut is still lagging behind in the Census response. But, they’re not alone – nationwide, the average tract-level response rate was 62 percent as of last month, according to the Census Bureau.