Valley cities praised for raising census self-response rates

FILE - In this Aug. 13, 2019, file photo, a worker gets ready to pass out instructions on how to fill out the 2020 census during a town hall meeting in Lithonia, Ga. The U.S. Census Bureau on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, suspended field operations for two weeks, citing the health and safety of its workers and the U.S. public from the novel coronavirus. (AP Photo/John Amis, File)

HARLINGEN — A Census 2020 expert this week singled out the Valley cities of Harlingen and Mission for working aggressively to improve their self-response rates.

Lila Valencia, senior demographer with the Texas Demographic Center, was speaking on a webinar produced by Texas Counts primarily aimed at addressing Census 2020 workers and community Complete Count committees.

Texas continues to rank just 39th in the nation, tied with Mississippi, with a self-response rate of 57.2 percent. The national rate is 62.3 percent.

But she singled out some of the state’s smaller and mid-sized cities for their improvement.

“We see that Fort Bend (county) is still in the lead with a response rate of 69.1 percent,” she said earlier this week. “Mountain City, Texas, is still at 88.6 percent. … What we’re seeing is that a lot of those rural areas that have now finally received their update lead packets and are starting to be able to mail those in and those are being processed, we’re seeing those small Texas cities and counties driving up the response rate.”

“We are also seeing some impressive increases in mid-size cities and counties, like Odessa and Mission, Harlingen and Eagle Pass,” she added.

Harlingen’s self-response rate has been raised to 49.5 percent, and Mission’s rate is 50.5 percent. Both cities have been languishing in the low to mid-40s.

Cameron County’s rate is 45.4 percent.

Residents can self-respond to Census 2020 until Oct. 31.