Louisiana lags the nation in the 2020 Census count
The count for the 2020 U.S. Census ends Sept. 30, and as of the beginning of September, more than 40 percent of Louisiana residents had failed to self-respond to the U.S. Census Bureau by Internet, phone or mail.
According to the Census Bureau’s website, only 58.3 percent of Louisianians had chosen to send their demographic information to the bureau themselves.
Across the country, 65 percent of residents had self-responded.
As is typical during the decennial census, field workers have been dispatched to count those people who haven’t otherwise counted themselves.
According to a map from the Center for Urban Research, CUNY Graduate Center, which uses data from the Census Bureau, that field work has meant a total of 75 percent of Louisiana residents have now been counted.
But field workers have less than a month remaining to do their work. The count had been scheduled to proceed through October, but, in an August announcement, President Donald Trump’s administration moved up the end-date.
Because so much federal funding is based on population numbers, state and local officials across the country, including Louisiana have expressed worry of an undercount and have encouraged the state’s residents to make sure they participate so that Louisiana won’t lose out on funding or congressional representation.
The 2020 count has been made especially difficult by the spreading contagion. Field workers have been dispatched, she said, “But door-knocking in pandemic hotspots raises many concerns, such as people not opening their doors, census-takers feeling unsafe, and fears of ‘travel teams’ spreading the virus between communities,” said Denis Ross, a senior fellow at the National Conference on Citizenship.
People who don’t want to open their doors to census takers can still participate in the count by submitting that information by responding online, in the mail or by phone.
Only two of Louisiana’s six congressional districts have a self-response rate above 60 percent. All the others have rates that are even lower.
At 52 percent, the 5th Congressional District, represented by Rep. Ralph Abraham, has the state’s worst self-response rate. Rep. Mike Johnson’s 4th Congressional District has a 56 percent self-response rate, Rep. Cedric Richmond’s 2nd Congressional District has a self-response rate of 58 percent, and Rep. Clay Higgins’ 3rd Congressional District has a self-response rate of 59 percent.
The 3rd and 4th Congressional Districts were hit particularly hard by Hurricane Laura which made landfall in Cameron Parish as a Category 4 storm Thursday. Many homes are uninhabitable, power is out and dozens of public water systems have been rendered inoperable.
Those inhospitable conditions and the sped-up deadline will likely make it even more difficult for Louisianians to be accurately counted.
The census count doesn’t only determine how much funding Louisiana gets; it also determines how many people Louisiana sends to Congress.
Before the 2010 Census, Louisiana had seven congressional districts but was reduced by one because of population decline.