This is not exactly a surprise.
Households in older, single-family Houston neighborhoods are returning 2010 census forms at the highest levels in the city so far, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data.
Neighborhoods with concentrations of apartments or condominiums, even high-cost rental housing, have lower return rates, said Jerry Wood, a former city planning department official working as a consultant on the city’s census response effort.
The highest return rate as of Monday, Wood said, was 47 percent in a portion of Meyerland, in southwest Houston, near Kolter Elementary School. He described this as a mature, mostly single-family neighborhood with a high home ownership rate.
Just 8 percent of households in Gulfton, a predominantly Latino southwest Houston neighborhood with a heavy concentration of apartments, had returned their forms by Monday.
They think more people will send in their forms this week. I sure hope so.
Some of the reasons for low participation are self-inflicted.
As of Friday afternoon, only 27 percent of Texas households had filled in and returned their census forms — well below the national average of 34 percent — according to computer data from the U.S. Census Bureau. In Harris County, the response rate is 23 percent. Houston’s returns are running at 21 percent.
Contrary to historical trends, some of the toughest challenges facing the agency responsible for measuring the nation’s population are not from counting the traditionally undercounted groups such as African-Americans and Latinos. Instead, a new and growing threat to an accurate national head count is coming from anti-government conservatives who may not fill out their forms to protest against “Big Brother” in Washington.
“There’s a general distrust of the federal government at every level, starting with Congress and the president, all the way down to executive branch agencies,” says Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Midland.
Not that you or your partymates have anything to do with that, Congressman. It would be mighty ironic if these delusions led to a loss of Congressional representation for these areas. West Texas in particular hasn’t kept up with the rest of the state in terms of population growth. Well, actions do have consequences, you know. Among them is the fact that not sending in the Census form will cost us all money, now and later.
Director Robert Groves issued a statement [Tuesday] morning urging Texans to mail the forms so temporary workers don’t have to collect the information in person. For every percentage point increase in mail response, the bureau estimates it saves $85 million in taxpayer money.
“We’re concerned about the relatively low response from parts of Texas,” he said in a press release. “Every household that fails to send back their census form by mail must be visited by a census taker starting in May — at a significant taxpayer cost. The easiest and best way to be counted in the census is to fill out and return your form by mail.”
I’m sure most of the folks that Rep. Conaway is speaking of consider themselves to be fiscal conservatives who claim to be deeply concerned about the deficit. Funny how these things go, isn’t it?