About 57% of Lubbock residents have responded to the U.S. Census. That’s pretty good – but there’s still a way to go with unique challenges to collecting this year’s data.
“Mid to high 60s was our total rate last time," said Victoria Whitehead. "So we’re already there.”
Whitehead is a member of the Complete Count LBK committee. They’re an appointed group working to spread the word about the national headcount and its importance.
The census determines congressional representation, influences hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding each year and provides other data that affects communities. It’s done every 10 years.
This is the first year people can respond online. Whitehead said it could not have come at a better time.
“To be able to have accurate data," she said, "so we can out in the community in this extended time and say ‘Hey, your community is not responding. How can we work with you to increase that rate?’”
College students are one group that’s considered hard to reach. Even more so this year as many have left their college towns during the coronavirus pandemic.
Everyone, not just students, should fill out their census for where they lived or should have been living on April 1.
“These students live here in Lubbock. They use Lubbock resources, they drive on our roads," Whitehead said. "We as a community need to have adequate resources to support their population.”
Responding to the census as a Lubbock resident is a way for college students to give back to their adopted community, Whitehead said. Like a thank you hug.
Areas with more rural and minority residents can also be hard to count, Whitehead said. That’s reflected on the Lubbock response-rate map, where fewer residents in the north and east parts of the county have submitted their forms.
Workers will start dropping off packets at households this week, according to a news release from the U.S. Census Bureau. People can respond online, over the phone or using the paper packet. This process will be contactless and done with everyones' safety in mind.
Whitehead hopes for a more accurate population count this round.
“We’re definitely going to expect a population boom," she said. "Just take a look at west Lubbock, and the growth that we have experienced in the last 10 years.”
Lubbock has grown, but Cristina Bradatan, associate professor of sociology at Texas Tech, expects to see lower and older populations in smaller towns on the South Plains.
“Lubbock is an area of growth, but all around us in this rural area, young people are leaving," Bradatan said. "The area is left with an aging population.”
Texas is a state of migration, the demographer said. Not just international movers, but also people from other states. The state gained more than 187,000 people from migration between July 2017 and 2018.
“Usually people talk a lot about international migration, but actually, Texas gets a fair amount of people coming from other states and moving to Texas,” Bradatan said.
Census results will be released early next year.