Download the full policy brief including infographics (updated Jan. 2020; 4 pages; pdf)
Link to our fact sheet on the census test (July 2019; 1 page; pdf)

An inaccurate 2020 Census could negatively impact New Mexico’s democratic representation, economy, and the health, education, and economic security of our kids and families.

Young children are uniquely at risk of being under-counted.

The Problem

There is a real possibility of New Mexico experiencing an inaccurate count or a population under-count during the 2020 Census – meaning our state could lose out on hundreds of millions in federal funds annually for the next 10 years and our democratic representation could be jeopardized.

Why Census 2020 is Different

  • New Mexico is already harder to count than nearly any other state.
  • The introduction of a citizenship question will lower response rates.
  • It’s the first year that the Census will be done entirely online.
  • The federal government has been under-funding the Census Bureau for years.

Challenges for New Mexico’s Census Count

The Biggest Challenges

  • New Mexico has always been a hard-to-count state. Many residents live in hard-to-reach rural areas, speak languages other than English, move frequently, and worry about privacy or distrust the government.
  • New Mexico is home to many populations that are often under-counted, including: Hispanics, Native Americans, immigrants, and people living in poverty, in rural areas, or without internet access.
  • 53 percent of our Hispanic population lives in areas that are considered hard to count (meaning they have very low response rates).

Other Challenges

  • Limited broadband infrastructure and major problems related to internet connectivity.
  • Extremely high rates of poverty.
  • High rates of Native Americans living on tribal lands, which presents unique geographic challenges, internet and phone connectivity issues, language barriers, differences in cultural norms, sovereignty issues, and historical basis for cultural mistrust.
  • High rates of persons who are undocumented.
  • Geographically large state, which presents practical transportation constraints of reaching many hard-to-count populations.

The Unique Challenge of Counting Young Children

  • Young children are often missed in the decennial Census and the financial consequences are serious.
  • 45 percent of young children in New Mexico live in areas that are considered hard to count.
  • Young children are missed for different reasons than adults; we need to count young children differently than we count adults.
  • Some respondents think the Census Bureau does not want children included in the Census.
  • Nationally, of children not counted in the 2010 Census:
  • 16 percent lived in an address that wasn’t included in the Census address file.
  • 16 percent were the only person missing in a housing unit that was “enumerated” (counted).

Family Structure and Complex Households

  • Children are more likely to be missed when the person filling out the form isn’t their biological or adopted parent.
  • Two out of every three children not counted in 2010 lived in complex households. Complex households can be:
  • Multi-generation households
  • Households with extended families
  • Multi-family households

Distrust of Government

  • Some respondents may not want to report their child to the government.
  • 1.8 million U.S. children ages 0 to 4 (6.4 million children younger than 18) are living with at least one undocumented parent.
  • Some young children are living with grandparents in housing that does not allow child residents.
  • 15 percent of Latinos in a NALEO study said they would not include their young child or didn’t know if they would.

The Consequences of the Young Child Under-count in the 2010 Census1

  • Funding Lost to New Mexico in FY 2015:
  • Amount lost per year for each child not counted: $1,121
  • Net under-count of young children in New Mexico in the 2010 Census: 4,1592
  • Census federal funds lost each year in five programs: $4,662,2393

1. All calculations by Partnership for America’s Children/Count All Kids
2. “States Ranked on Number Undercount Age 0 to 4 in 2010 Census,” King, et al, 2018
3. “Counting for Dollars 2020,” George Washington University Institute of Public Policy, 2018 (the five programs funded under the Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage [FMAP]: Medicaid, CHIP, Foster Care, Adoption, and Child Care)
Note: These are conservative estimates of the impact of the young child net under-count, because: a significant number of children ages 5 to 9 were also missed in many states; and this includes only five of the more than 300 programs that use Census data to help allocate funds to states.