2020 Census Challenges
The 2020 Census is here and will shape Texas’s future for the next decade. The Census counts every person living in the U.S. once, only once, and in the right place. For a state as large and diverse as Texas, it can be difficult to count every resident. Counting every person is not only a constitutional mandate, it is an essential step to ensuring that Texas can thrive for years to come.
Hard-to-count means a region or population with a low self-response in past Census counts. Hard-to-count populations include very young children, immigrants, people of color, rural residents, people with disabilities, and low-income individuals. Communities that are not counted accurately could lose out on political representation and critical public and private resources.
The Census often misses people if they are:
- hard to contact, such as people who are homeless, move frequently, or lack a permanent address;
- hard to locate, such as people who live in colonias, in another person’s home, or in informal housing without an address;
- hard to survey, such as people with language barriers, limited literacy, or no internet access; or
- hard to engage, such as people who are afraid, distrust the government, or lack the time to complete the form.
1 in 4 Texans Lives in a Hard-to-Count Community
With 25 percent of Texans living in hard-to-count areas, our state is at particularly high risk for a significant Census undercount. Being undercounted by even one percent in 2020 could result in a significant loss in federal funding for Texas — at least $300 million a year.
An estimated 30 percent of young children in the state (about 582,000 children) live in hard-to-count neighborhoods, making them at high risk of being missed. Texas is home to the second largest population of immigrants in the nation, with 17 percent of its residents born outside the U.S. Fears around the defeated efforts citizenship question as well as the current political climate could suppress participation in the Census.
Census Challenges in Texas
Reporting an accurate count is extremely important for the well-being of all Texans; however, getting an accurate count faces many challenges.
In addition to the challenge of counting in hard-to-count communities, The 2020 Census is facing unique challenges.
- While get-out-the-count efforts are underway across Texas, many communities lack the resources and support they need to ensure a complete count. The state does not have a state-sponsored complete count committee nor have they put any money towards the count making it extremely difficult to count all Texans.
- For the first time, the Census Bureau will invite nearly all Texas residents to respond online. 1 in 4 rural residents lacks access to broadband internet at home — and fears of cybersecurity threats could amplify people’s concerns about privacy. Mail-in and phone response options will still be available.
- The citizenship question will not be on the 2020 Census. The Supreme Court rejected the rationale for its addition, and the Executive branch will no longer pursue it. However, the question has intensified a lingering climate of fear that may discourage immigrant households—even ones with mixed status or legal permanent residents—from participating in the Census.
- The 2020 Census faced funding issues. As a result, the Census Bureau had to cancel important tests meant to improve response rates, efficiency, and accuracy of the questionnaire. In addition, this has limited outreach efforts to promote the Census and engage communities.