With Sept. 30 deadline looming, state is at risk of an undercount
With time running out, almost 15 percent of New Mexico households have yet to be counted in the 2020 Census, which could cause devastating financial ramifications for public education, school meals, health care and other services for children and families over the next decade.
Experts estimate that every 1 percent undercount will cost New Mexico $780 million in our fair share of federal tax dollars, so a 15 percent undercount would result in a loss of almost $12 billion over the coming decade — that is taxpayer money spent on federal programs that are funded on a per-capita basis.
“Such a loss for a relatively poor state like New Mexico is untenable,” Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart said. “We’ve been working so hard to improve academic outcomes for all our children, and we’re gaining ground. Imagine the progress we can continue to make between now and 2030 if we receive our fair share of federal funding. Now imagine trying to make progress without adequate access to books or food programs — both of which are supported by federal dollars. There is no possible way to replace that lost revenue. An accurate census is simply critical for New Mexico,” he said.
“Completing your census form is a statement of support for public education and all the other services our children and our families depend on,” Stewart said.
The census process began in March, when census invitations were mailed to U.S. households, offering an opportunity for residents to reply online, by phone or by mail. Just over 56 percent of New Mexico households have responded that way.
To count the remaining population, census workers hired by the Census Bureau must go door-to-door to collect responses from households that haven’t completed their form. But that critical operation was delayed until mid-July due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Then the Trump Administration abruptly moved the census deadline up a month, to Sept. 30, which means just two weeks remain for New Mexicans to be counted.
The accelerated deadline has made it even harder for census workers to reach all of the many remote households in New Mexico, which due to its geography is widely considered the most difficult of the 50 states to count.
The decennial census, required by the U.S. Constitution, determines state and national populations, numbers used to dole out billions of tax dollars for federal programs and to determine representation in Congress or state and local governing bodies.
The census form consists of 10 questions about the age and race of every individual in every household, including infants born on or before April 1, 2020. It takes about 10 minutes to complete, and the information provided is completely confidential.
To respond to the census today, visit 2020Census.gov or call (844) 330-2020 or (844)468-2020 for Spanish.