An early look at census numbers in North Texas shows Dallas County’s self-response rate is the biggest loser
The 2020 census ended prematurely last week, and Dallas County’s self-response rate appears to be the biggest loser in North Texas.
Dallas County had the lowest rate of any of the four most populous counties in North Texas, with a self-response rate of 63.9%, followed by Collin County (73.8%), Denton County (71.4%), and Tarrant County (68.8%).
Self-response rates reflect households that responded to the census online, by mail, or by phone. These response rates do not include households visited personally by census workers and are not the official censuses.
By Monday, 67% of American households had self-responded, and 32.9% had been visited in person, according to the Census Bureau.
Of the four counties, Dallas had a lower self-response rate than the previous 2010 census. Collin, Denton, and Tarrant counties had high self-response rates this year compared to the previous census, but no more than 2% apart.
The overall self-response rate in Texas was 62.8%, lower than the 64.4% rate in the 2010 census.
While the numbers may seem small, each person undercounted in this year’s census represents a loss of about $ 15,000 in federal funds over the next decade, according to Clay Jenkins, a Dallas County judge. Even an undercount of 1% of the county could mean a loss of $ 400 million over the next 10 years.
According to Edward Rincon, President of Rincón & Associates, the loss of these funds could have implications for day care, clinics, grocery stamps and elderly support. This is a long list of programs that rely on federal aid.
“You see long lines of people collecting food. People are already suffering from the pandemic, ”Rincon said, adding that an undercount will only make it worse. “It will really affect our ability to do business as usual.”
After the Supreme Court ruled last week that the Trump administration could end field operations early, the Census Bureau said the operations would end Thursday.
The premature termination of operations certainly contributed to an under-count, and now another court decision could exacerbate the under-representation, Rincón said.
Next, the Supreme Court will take up President Donald Trump’s policy, which is being blocked by a lower court, to exclude anyone illegally residing in the U.S. from the census used to assign seats in the House of Representatives.
Never in US history have immigrants been excluded from the population that determines how the seats of the House of Representatives, and therefore the votes of the electoral college, are divided among the states, a federal court of three judges said in September when it found Trump’s policies illegal .
“Because of our population, this could cost DFW billions in tax dollars,” Jenkins said in a statement last week.
The judges have put the case in the fast lane, making arguments for November 30th. A decision is expected by the end of the year or early January when Trump has to report census numbers to the House.
“We were already past the last 16,” said Rincon of a likely undercount.
If non-citizens are excluded from this year’s census, the Dallas-Fort Worth area could be under-represented by about 1 million immigrants and about 3 million total in the Lone Star State, according to Rincon.
“The potential numbers are very large with the exclusion,” said Rincón. “It is not that these immigrants will move away if they are not counted.”
During a conference call with the press on Wednesday, the Census Bureau declined to comment on pending litigation related to the census.
Collecting the data was only the first step for the Census Bureau. Now the data has to be analyzed, checked and validated.
“The census is not over yet,” said Albert E. Fontenot, assistant director for ten-year programs for the Census Bureau. “We have work to do.”
While some researchers and analysts like Rincón have concerns about the accuracy of the data, Fontenot said during the conference call on Wednesday that the office is ensuring full accuracy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.