EL PASO, Texas -- The U.S. Census deadline has been cut from Oct. 31 to Sept. 30 as the Census Bureau looks to accelerate the completion of data collection by the statutory deadline of Dec. 31.
"I can't stress enough how important the census is to fill out, this isn't even a political issue this is an issue that Republicans and Democrats stand behind because this means real dollars for our community," said state Rep. Claudia Ordaz Perez.
The state of Texas is lagging behind the national average response rate at only 58.9%, while the country has a self-response rate of 63.8%. Currently El Paso County is topping Texas with a response rate at 62.5%, but that is still behind the national average.
As a whole, Texas ranks 39th in the country for response rate - something that could hurt the state by losing out on hundreds of millions of dollars in funding. According to officials, a 1% under-count could cost Texas $300 million per year in federal funding.
"If we get an opportunity to get this free funding just by filling out this 10-minute census, it goes a long way and we only have one opportunity to do so once every ten years," Ordaz-Perez said.
A portion of $675 billion in federal funds to support resources, programs and services are at stake for the next ten years.
Observers note that it's troubling that the city and the state are both falling behind on census reporting - not only on a national average, but on their own reported numbers from 10-years ago.
A decade ago, Texas reported a 64.4% response rate while El Paso reported a a 70.8% response rate. Hindering the response efforts is the outbreak of Covid-19, limiting census collectors from going door to door for a vast part of the year.
"Not only are they tasked with getting to as many houses as they can, they are also going at a time when people are already preoccupied with the fact that we are starting to see students go back to a digital learning form," said Elizabeth O'Hara, a co-chair for the complete count committee.
If you have not filled out the census yet, you can still do so until Sept. 30. You can fill it out online by following this link.