Photo: Aurora Samperio/Getty Images
Photo: Aurora Samperio/Getty Images

Latinos are not filling-out the 2020 Census and could miss out on integral funding

In areas with large Latino populations, the self-response rate for the 2020 census is alarmingly low.


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With more than 60% of Americans having responded to the 2020 Census, organizations have noticed a disparity in the response rate among Latinos.

According to a data analysis by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), in partnership with NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, self-response rates in areas with large Latino populations lag behind the national average.

On Wednesday, the two organizations partnered to announce a “day of action” to combat and highlight the lower response rates in counties with higher Latino populations.

“An accurate count of Latinos, one of the largest groups of people in the U.S., is important for determining necessary funding for critical community services, said Christina Kolbjornsen, NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises senior vice president of corporate and external Affairs.

“Now, more than ever, it is our responsibility to continue engaging and informing not only the Latino community but all others at risk of being miscounted on the importance of completing the 2020 Census," Kolbjornsen said in a statement.

An analysis of current self-response data in underrepresented states depicts low response rates for Latinos across the board: 

  • 57.9% in Arizona
  • 62.4% in California
  • 56.8% in Florida
  • 49.8% in New Mexico
  • 56.6%in New York
  • 56.1% in Texas


Puerto Rico, for instance, currently has a self-response rate at 18.9%, and counties in the U.S. with Latino populations of 75% or more, tend to be the most undercounted.

And, in counties like Yuma County in Arizona, the self-response rate is at 43%, far behind Arizona’s average of about 58%, and even further behind the national average of over 60. The Latino share of Yuma County’s population is over 63%.

The higher the Latino share of a population, the lower the total self-response rate is for that location, says NALEO.

Why this matters

In addition to helping to divide 435 congressional seats among the states, census results are used to distribute over $1.5 trillion in federal funds each year.

If Latinos do not represent themselves, the funds will not make their way to their communities. The census is necessary to receive the resources needed for the next decade.

In the 2010 Census 2.1% of African Americans, 1.5% of Hispanics and 4.9% of Native peoples on reservations were undercounted. Meanwhile, a little less than 1% of white residents got counted twice.

If Latinos and Black populations are underrepresented in the 2020 Census, “It could throw off efforts to assess disparities those groups face in health care, policing and other aspects of society,” tweeted Arturo Vargas, CEO of NALEO.

House Democrats passed a bill to extend the Census Bureau's shortfalls in the process. While it could extend the agency’s deadline to submit census results until the end of next March along with $300 million in funding, the Senate has yet to act on the legislation.


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