The goal of the decennial census is to count each person in the United States based on their residence as of April 1. For the 2020 census, each household in the U.S. will either receive mailed instructions on how to fill out the census questionnaire online, or they will receive the actual questionnaire. The Census Bureau asks that as many households as possible submit their responses to this questionnaire via the Internet or by mail — this is the self-response component of the decennial census.
In prior censuses, the self-response rate in many parts of the country has been relatively high. But in other parts of the country and for some population groups more than others, the self-response rate has been relatively low. Households may not have submitted their census questionnaire for various reasons, such as having language difficulties, concerns about trust in government, or otherwise.
These areas and population groups are considered Hard to Count (HTC), because the Census Bureau sends enumerators into the field to talk with each non-responding household one-by-one. This “non-response follow-up” component of the census can be difficult, time-consuming, and costly (to the Bureau, and to taxpayers). And if these groups and their communities are not counted fairly and accurately, they will be deprived of equal political representation and vital public and private resources.
The goal of the HTC map is to highlight the areas of the country that are hardest to count, and to provide information to local, regional/statewide, and national organizations who are working to make sure these hard-to-count areas and populations are fully counted to help ensure a fair and accurate census.
Populations at Risk of Being Undercounted
Some populations historically have been, or are at risk of being, missed in the census at disproportionately high rates. These include (based on 2013-17 estimates):
~48% of New Mexico’s population is Hispanic (regardless of race)
~3% of New Mexico’s population reported their race as Black (either alone or in combination with other races)
~2% of New Mexico’s population reported their race as Asian (either alone or in combination with other races)
~11% of New Mexico’s population reported their race as American Indian or Alaska Native (either alone or in combination with other races)