Terrell’s Census response rate stood at 63.5% on Monday, Oct. 5, the day the Census count was to officially end at the direction of U.S. Commerce Department. The city underperformed when compared with its last response rate in 2010, which was 66.5%.
Buoyed by high rates in Forney, Crandall and Talty, the response rate for Kaufman County stood at 68.6% on Oct. 5. The county’s 2010 response rate was 67%. Statewide, the total response rate was placed at 62.5%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The response rate measures only voluntary responses by households and does not take into account door-to-door visits and events staged to obtained Census information. The city of Terrell held five such events this year, which were funded by the Terrell EDC.
Still, the COVID-19 pandemic “absolutely had an effect” on this year’s Census count, according to Ray Dunlap, president of the Terrell Economic Development Corp. and a member of Kaufman County’s Census Taskforce. The pandemic diminished the city’s ability to conduct Census events, and the one’s that were staged had to be modified to meet health guidelines, according to Dunlap. The pandemic, he noted, likely dampened Census Bureau door-to-door counting as well.
Kaufman County had an overall response rate of 68.6%, placing it in about the mid-range of county response rates nationwide. Though down from 2010, Terrell’s response rate was still higher than the state’s overall rate of 62.5%. Terrell ranked in the top half of city’s nationwide.
In response to the pandemic, the Census Bureau in April delayed the deadline for completing the 2020 census from the end of July to the end of October. The bureau also asked Congress for extra time to turn in the results, which will be used for apportionment.
The deadline extension passed the House but stalled in the Senate after President Trump issued a memorandum seeking to exclude from the Census count people in the country who are here illegally. In a move that surprised local officials, the Commerce Department announced last month that the Census would conclude Sept. 30 instead of Oct. 31 as originally planned. A federal judge, however, issued an injunction against ending the count on Sept. 30. The Commerce Department then issued a directive from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stating the Census would shut down Oct. 5 despite the injunction.
The Census count is used for the apportionment of Congressional seats to each state. It also is used in determining how to distribute hundreds of billions of dollars in federal spending annually, which local communities use for transportation, health insurance, hospitals, childcare, food assistance, education and other programs.