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Committee wants to raise Valley communities’ census response rates

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Roswell continues to have a high percentage of self-responders to the 2020 census surveys, so the Roswell Complete Count Committee and the Chaves County subcommittee are looking at how to help residents in the Valley communities participate.

Roswell had a 43.2% self-response rate as of Thursday for the surveys and notices that began to reach people’s mailboxes March 12.

By Thursday, Dexter’s rate was 12.6%, Hagerman’s was 13.4% and Lake Arthur’s was 8.8%.

For the entire county, it was 40.3%. Statewide, the rate was 32%. Nationwide, it was 42.8%.

For many residents of the smaller communities, the issue is that they have postal boxes rather than physical addresses, so many have not received their surveys or notifications with their unique identification number yet, said Louis Jaramillo, chair of the county subcommittee.

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He also said that people have reported difficulty getting through to the Census Bureau on its phone line and that some have said they can’t complete the census online.

The U.S. Census Bureau has indicated on its website that it has had to reduce staff due to coronavirus restrictions, which can cause long wait times on phone lines. On Friday afternoon, the English phone line, 844-330-2020, did allow for automated service only.

While radio and TV ads, banners, yard signs and direct mailers will continue to notify Valley residents about the census, the Complete Count Committee members say they are also looking forward to when New Mexico’s “stay at home” restrictions are lifted so that events to assist people in filling out the census online can be held.

Census takers also are due to start visiting residences to assist non-responders in early May.