Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the census is still taking place. But so far only half of the families in the San Joaquin Valley have responded. In contrast, 58 percent of California residents have responded to the census as of Monday.
So far, the U.S. Census Bureau has mailed notices asking residents to self-report. Traditionally, the next step is sending workers door to door to collect responses in mid-March. In the age of social-distancing, however, that didn’t happen, which is why State Senator Anna Caballero is trying to get the word out.
“It’s estimated for every person that we don’t count, we lose a thousand dollars a year to the state of California,” said Caballero. That funding supports road maintenance, childcare, parks, and other community resources that are allocated based on population data. “You know, that accumulates over time,” she added.
Caballero represents Senate District 12 which includes parts of Merced, Madera, and Fresno Counties. The region also has one of the lowest census response rates thus far, and in some small towns the rate is negligible.
“The percentage of people that have responded in my senate district is about 47 percent,” Caballero said. “Yet, in the city of Huron, only five percent of residents have participated.”
While sheltering in place, filling out the census is something everyone can do, said Caballero. In light of the pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau has also revised it’s deadlines for self-reporting: responses are due at the end of October instead of July.