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Port Arthur residents lagging behind state, nation completing census forms

The U.S. Census Bureau is looking for ways to bolster the city’s response rate to the 2020 Census.

Through May 27, 46.3 percent of Port Arthur citizens have completed the census form, which has been sent to every address and is available at 2020census.gov. That rate is smaller than Texas’ 54.9 percent and the U.S.’ 60.3 percent.

The Census is conducted every 10 years to determine congressional representation and federal funding for each city in America.

Port Arthur, which has an estimated population of 54,280 as of July 2019, could lose federal funding for some public services if its population drops below 50,000. The city’s population after the 2010 Census was 53,818.

“We want an accurate count to get the funding to everyone,” said Terry J. Bennett, a media specialist with the Dallas Regional Census Center. “The area is still under construction since the last natural disaster.”

Port Arthur is broken down into Census tracts, which detail the response rate for each portion of the city. The area that covers all of southern Port Arthur has seen a low self-response rate of 32.1 percent, with 28.7 percent having responded via the Internet. A tract in the northeast corner of the city has seen a rate as high at 65.6 percent, with 57.2 responding online.

For the entire city, 29.7 percent have completed the census online.

Census workers restarted field operations in early May after a pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, but to take further precautions, workers will not knock on doors or interact one-on-one with citizens, Bennett said.

Instead, invitation packets will be left at front doors of households in areas where the majority of households do not receive mail at their home.

Each citizen is required to be accounted for in the 2020 Census, and answers will be kept confidential. The Census asks where each person, regardless of age, resided on April 1, 2020.

Bennett said she is passionate about having all of Southeast Texas counted.

“Due to all the natural disasters, you don’t want to lose any funding,” she said. “It’s very serious everyone gets counted in their homes, including children under 5.”

The Census Bureau is hiring more workers. To apply, visit: 2020census.gov/jobs.

To complete the Census questionnaire, visit: my2020census.gov.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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