With just eight days left till the 2020 Census deadline, Kern’s self-response rate is lower than than it’s 2010 response rate, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
As of Monday, Kern’s self-response rate was 63 percent, more than 2 percentage points lower than Kern’s 2010 self-response rate. This number is also lower than California’s overall self-response rate of 68.6 percent and the national response rate of 66.1 percent.
The self-response rate only factors in those individuals who have responded by phone, mail or online. It doesn’t include the number of people who have responded after enumerators have reached out to them at their homes.
The total percentage of people enumerated in Kern is unknown, according to Angelica Vasquez, the media communications specialist for the Los Angeles Regional Census Center; however, as of Monday, more than 87 percent of the Nonresponse Follow-up workload has been completed in the ACO of Bakersfield.
“The Census Bureau is committed to a complete and accurate count and urges every household to respond when a census taker comes to the door or respond on their own by using their census ID online, by phone, or by mail,” Vasquez said. “As necessary, (Census takers) are making additional visits to collect responses from the household.”
Some of the cities in Kern that have the lowest self-response rates include Arvin, Wasco and Barstow. As of Monday, Arvin has a self-response rate of 56 percent — which is more than 10 percent lower than it’s 2010 self-response rate. Barstow and Wasco also have low self-response rates with response rates of 59.5 percent.
Ridgecrest, Tehachpi and Bakersfield are a few cities in Kern that have some of the highest self-response rates in the County. As of Monday, Ridgecrest’s self-response rate was 70.7 percent, Tehachapi’s was 69 percent, and Bakersfield’s self-response rate was 67.4 percent.
Delano, McFarland, Shafter and Taft all had low self-response rates between 60.4 and 63.4 percent, as of Sunday.
To help count the hard-to-count communities in Kern, organizations have been working together to enumerate people. The NALEO Education Fund partnered with Community Action Partnership of Kern to get people counted at food distribution sites.
NALEO focused their efforts on Wasco, Shafter and the Arvin/Lamont area — all hard-to-count communities. At the food distributions, held by CAPK, enumerators were getting people counted, according to Cristina Camacho, a Regional Campaign Manager for NALEO Educational Fund.
The Kern Complete Count Committee has also taken efforts in raising awareness of the 2020 Census since the beginning of the year; however, the pandemic put a halt to many of the Committee’s plans.
Before the pandemic, the Committee planned to place Census kiosks in libraries and schools to help people who do not have access to the internet or an electronic device to respond to the 2020 Census; however, with schools and libraries shut down due to the pandemic, the kiosks were never installed.
About 37 percent of Kern County — or 112,961 households — have not self-responded. The census is set to end in only nine days, unless a federal court intervenes to extend the deadline.
The U.S. Census Bureau has begun to release daily 2020 Census housing unit completion rates, including the 2020 Census self-response rate and Nonresponse Followup completion rate. The Census Bureau reports 95% of housing units have been accounted for in the 2020 Census as of September 19, with 28.9% counted by census takers and other field data collection operations, and 66.1% of housing units responding online, by phone, or by mail. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 95.4 percent of California’s population has been enumerated.
“We have the support of our hundreds of thousands of community-based, business, state, local and tribal partners contributing to these efforts across our Nation,” Vasquez said. “The 2020 Census belongs to us all.”
Households can still respond now by responding online at 2020census.gov or 2020census.gov/es (Spanish website) by phone at 844-330-2020 or the Spanish line at 844-468-2020, or by completing and mailing back the paper questionnaire they received.
Kern Sol News is a youth-led journalism organization in Kern County. In their stories, reporters shine light on health and racial disparities in under-served communities across Kern. For more stories by South Kern Sol, head to southkernsol.org.