Make Texas Count in the 2020 Census

Texas state statute establishes Texas Natural Resources Information System (TNRIS) as "a centralized clearinghouse and referral center" for specific data, including census data. Though TNRIS no longer handles requests for population data, TNRIS remains a state partner with the United States Census Bureau (U.S. Census) via the state demographer and the Texas Demographic Center. For the state demographer and the U.S. Census, the biggest and most important task is the fast approaching decennial population count. Extensive work and preparations leading up to the April 1 population count have been taking place throughout the state.

The Texas Demographic Conference, an annual conference hosted by the Texas Demographic Center was held the first week of June 2019. The main takeaways for this year’s conference were the availability of online resources of census information, tools, and data products, and a strong message to "make Texas count!" Several state agency executives, community leaders, and one state representative gave testimony on the importance of counting every person in the state. The importance of census data includes:

  • determining Texas representation in Washington, D.C., as well as legislative districts within our state;
  • guiding the allocation of over $675 billion in federal dollars invested in our communities;
  • planning for health, education, transportation, and other services;
  • assisting businesses in locating factories and stores and recruiting employees; and
  • serving as the building block for nearly all demographic and socio-economic statistics for the next 10 years.

Population figures are essential to the mission of the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB). The TWDB relies on accurate counts and future population projections to determine water needs for the next 50 years. Furthermore, population projections may help determine the type of financial assistance provided by the TWDB to communities for water and wastewater infrastructure projects.

For several decades, TNRIS partnered with the U.S. Census serving as the state’s central data center for each decennial census until the early 2000s. Requests for population information came in from all corners of the state, prompting staff to pull notebooks containing computer tapes and eventually compact discs to produce paper reports of a specific socioeconomic or demographic population. Cities and towns relied on population counts to receive the appropriate amount of infrastructure funding and social programs for their residents. Diligence in pulling the correct information helped communities get the services and funding they needed.

While this process is now centralized at the federal level, it still requires partnerships with state governments. But the state has limited resources to promote, educate, and locate hard-to-count communities. However, leaders throughout the state are working hard to ensure an accurate and complete count of Texans in 2020.

Why the Census Matters to Texas

Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs recently convened a roundtable discussion of state agencies to coordinate efforts with the U.S. Census to achieve a complete count in the state. The secretary of state’s efforts compliment the ongoing Texas Counts Campaign, a statewide collaboration of community-based and philanthropic organizations spearheaded by the Center for Public Policy Priorities and Community Foundations of Texas.

Texas Counts works with cross-sector leaders and organizations to promote engagement with the 2020 Census and supports and amplifies local level efforts throughout Texas. The campaign website, TexasCounts.org, offers resources, best practices, connections with other census champions in the discussion forum, and applications for funding and assistance.

As GIS professionals, the importance of census data was understood before we made our first map. And when the time came for us to make a map, we used the census TIGER files for our road centerlines and place boundaries. Analysis of demographics came shortly thereafter, building choropleth maps to show population density or per-capita income in the U.S. The GIS community still relies on the census data, not only for its rich demographic data, but as a fundamental piece of all GIS work. Companies and organizations will rely on us to perform population trend analysis for marketing, planning, and problem solving. As devout users of census products, our collective support for the decennial census is paramount. We are excited to do our part to ensure a complete count in the 2020 Census.

Let’s help make Texas count!

For additional information or to get involved, please contact Lloyd Potter or Lila Valencia at the Texas Demographic Center - email: tdc@utsa.edu or phone: 512-936-3542.

Additional resources

Mapping Hard to Count Communities for a Fair and Accurate 2020 Census

https://www.censushardtocountmaps2020.us/

Response Outreach Area Mapper Tool

The ROAM application was developed to make it easier to identify hard-to-survey areas and to provide socioeconomic and demographic characteristic profile of these areas using the American Community Survey.

Launch Outreach Mapper

2020 Census Recruiting Goals by County in All States

The Census Bureau is still hiring! Text “texasjobs” to 313131 for more information. The map below demonstrates how close the Census Bureau is to meeting their recruiting goals.

View Recruiting Goals

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