‘Bring your own horse,’ US Census tells new West Texas recruits

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Agency ramps up efforts to boost survey response rates in Lone Star state's rural enclaves

In this Thursday, July 13, 2017 photo, young boys ride a horse bareback along the dirt roads in the Indian Hills East Colonia near Alamo, Texas. An estimated 500,000 people in Texas live in colonias and both the state and federal government have worked to stop the proliferation of these impoverished neighborhoods and improve the ones already settled decades ago by migrant workers. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — The federal government is recruiting census takers in Far West Texas, where counties have some of the lowest response rates in the nation.

They include Hudspeth, with a 17.6% response rate; Presidio (18.7%); Culberson (20.3%); Jeff Davis (22.9%); and Brewster (30.6%). The national census response rate is 61.9%; Texas stands at 56.6%.

The new recruits will be part of the Non-Response Follow Up team that tracks people residing in known addresses or known only through a postal office box who haven’t responded.

Such households are usually in rural, hilly or out-of-the-way places, so the Census Bureau tells potential employees upfront to procure alternate transportation.

“Given its remote terrain, census takers must own their own ATVs or horses to navigate through the West Texas terrain, which includes rugged hills and exposed, rocky areas to visit households to attain a complete and accurate count,” the Census Bureau said in a news release.

All census takers will be trained on social distancing protocols and issued personal protective equipment. The job pays an average of $18 an hour.

For more information, you can visit 2020census.gov. Applicants may call Vanessa Henriquez at (972) 504-1903 and Adan Barron at (972) 839-2131.

If you haven’t responded to the 2020 population survey, you can do so at 2020census.gov, by telephone at 844-330-2020 or by mail using the ID number included in the paper packet mailed to non-responding addresses or dropped off at the front door.

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