NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Census Bureau statistics show that New Brunswick trails state and county self-response percentages, and also lags behind several cities with similar populations.

New Brunswick’s self-response rate of 47.6% is below that of New Jersey (69.5%) and Middlesex County (74.3%).

Although the task of counting the country’s residents ended Thursday, the Census Bureau’s published numbers might not be final since there may be a short lag time to determine if non-ID responses match the bureau’s records.

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Census 2020 was vital to New Brunswick for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact millions of dollars of federal aid for programs ranging from senior housing to transportation projects to school funding could be at stake – federal aid that is often distributed based on census data.

Census data also determines representation in Washington. In fact, New Jersey lost a congressional seat in the 2010 census, reducing the state to 12 congressional districts.

The city government was proactive over the past several months in its attempt to get an accurate count of the city’s residents. It has been hosting events such as a census caravan and setting up kiosks at various events.

Despite its great efforts, New Brunswick’s self-response rate trailed other cities such as Paterson (54.6%), Plainfield (58.9%) and Perth Amboy (63%).

City officials have suggested that getting a complete census count would prove more difficult in New Brunswick than most areas in the state.

A spokesperson for the mayor’s office told TAPinto New Brunswick that it’s typical for undocumented and immigrant residents not to realize they need to fill out the census, and many tend to be apprehensive that the information will be forwarded to ICE or Homeland Security.

The thousands of Rutgers students who were sent home to initiate online learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic could present a challenge, too. According to Rutgers, about 17% of its student body comes from out of state.

A spokesman for the mayor’s office said it’s possible that many of them don’t know they are supposed to list New Brunswick as their home on their census questionnaire – even though they may have been several towns or states away on April 1.

The census, taken once every 10 years in the United States since 1790, gives the federal government a snapshot of each community. It’s a snapshot of where you lived as of April 1, 2020 – known as Census Day - and includes everyone who usually lives and sleeps in your home.

Self-response rates are calculated by dividing the number of self-responses collected online, by phone, and by mail by the number of mailable housing units in self-response enumeration areas and the number of housing units in update leave enumeration areas and multiplying by 100. Only one response per housing unit is used to determine this rate.

The census cut off date has been tied up in the courts over the past several months. The Trump administration won a victory Tuesday in the Supreme Court to have it stop Thursday.

New Brunswick’s population according to the 2010 Census was 55,181.