As of Tuesday, July 7, Arizona’s self-response rate to the 2020 U.S. Census questionnaire was lagging behind the national rate, but several Southwest Valley cities' rates were higher, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s online tracker, 2020census.gov/en/response-rates.
The national self-response rate was 61.9% as of Tuesday, July 7 and Arizona’s rate was 58.6%. Maricopa County’s response rate was 62.5%, above the national average.
Litchfield Park continued to lead Southwest Valley cities’ self-response rates with 69.2%, while El Mirage’s 53.6% response rate was the lowest.
Here’s how the cities stacked up as of July 7:
Why the count is important
Completing the questionnaire is not only required by the U.S. Constitution, it also ensures that communities across the country get their fair share of billions in federal tax dollars and population-based state-shared funds. An undercount could mean the loss of millions of dollars to Arizona, its counties and cities, resulting in fewer programs and services.
According to the Census Bureau, the census impacts nearly every aspect of life in America, including:
The final day of the 2020 count is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 31. It was originally scheduled for Friday, July 31, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Census Bureau to shut down operations in mid-March and revamp its count schedules. Congress approved the bureau’s request to push back the final day of the county, and extended the deadline for delivering apportionment counts to the president and Congress from Dec. 31, 2020, to April 30, 2021. The deadline for delivering redistricting data to the states will be July 31, 2021, according to the census website.
On Thursday, July 16, census workers are scheduled to begin contacting households that haven’t responded to the questionnaire in several states including Idaho, Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, West Virginia and Maine, according to the website. Schedules for other states are still to be determined, but the majority are expected to begin seeing census workers out and about Tuesday, Aug. 11.
The census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution and has been every conducted every 10 years since 1790, when 650 U.S. marshals carried out the first count. This year marks the first time people can fill out their census questionnaires online. They also can respond by mail or telephone.
As of July 7, more than 91.6 million households across the nation had filled out their questionnaires, according to the census website. Of those self-responses, 49.4% were online.
Minnesota ranked first in self-responses at 71.5%. Arizona ranked 33rd at 58.6%.
Goodyear and Litchfield Park impacts
Arizona’s cities depend on population-based allocations from four state shared revenues (sales, income, vehicle license and gas taxes) to provide services like recreation programming, parks maintenance and development, police and fire, and street repairs and maintenance, among others. An accurate count ensures that each city receives its share of revenues.
Based on 2010 Census results, Goodyear receives $343 per person in state shared revenues annually, which equaled about $25.6 million in fiscal 2020, nearly a quarter of the city’s general fund budget. Litchfield Park receives $344 per person in state shared revenues, which equaled $1.878 million in FY2020, also a quarter of the city’s general fund budget.
Results of the 2020 Census could change cities’ annual per-person allocation, so an accurate count is critical.
The 2010 Census recorded Goodyear’s population as 65,275. In 2018, an estimated 82,835 people called the city home. City Manager Julie Arendall said in March that 2019 estimates put the population at just under 89,000.
The 2010 Census recorded Litchfield Park’s population as 5,476. The 2015 mid-decade count recorded the city’s population as 6,152, and in 2019, the population was estimated at 6,809. During a March interview at City Hall, Management Assistant Sonny Culbreth predicted the population will top 7,000.
“At $344 per person, that would be an additional $500,000,” in the city’s general fund budget annually, Assistant City Manager Matthew Williams said during the interview.