Press Release: California Exceeds 2010 Census Self-Response Rate in 2020 Count

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, September 16, 2020
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California Exceeds 2010 Census Self-Response Rate in 2020 Count

With the September 30 deadline for responses approaching, 10.3 million households statewide have self-responded

SACRAMENTO – California’s campaign to generate census response reached a critical milestone Wednesday, with the percentage of households self-responding to the Census surpassing the rate compared to 2010.

Leaders said it was the decision to invest resources in reaching hard-to-count Californians that paid dividends, noting that the state’s success with people who are traditionally harder-to-count was a result of a comprehensive multilingual and multicultural campaign that has been underway since the beginning of the year.

“We’ve been on the ground in neighborhoods supporting community-based organizations to serve as trusted messengers. These steps set our state apart from other states, and that investment is paying dividends despite the challenges of the pandemic limiting our planned operations on the ground,” said Ditas Katague, Director of the California Complete Count – Census 2020.

As of today, 68.4% (10.3 million) of California households have responded to the 2020 Census online, by phone or mail. In 2010, California’s self-response rate (SRR) was 68.2%. With just 14 days remaining before the September 30 deadline, it is critical for Californians who have yet to fill out the form to complete the confidential, nine-question survey now to help achieve a complete count.

Between late July and mid-September, the gap between California’s self-response rate SRR and the national SRR almost doubled, from 1.3 percentage points to 2.5 percentage points. Traditionally, California has served as a leading indicator for the decennial Census. California drives the national rate given the state has approximately 10% of all U.S. households. The national self-response rate is 65.9% (97.4 million households). The final national SRR in 2010 was 66.5%.

“It is through the collective efforts of millions of Californians that we have surpassed our 2010 self-response rate. But make no mistake – we are not done yet. We know the hardest-to-count Californians still may be missed or undercounted given the shortened deadline, so it’s essential these households complete the form now,” said Ditas Katague, Director of the California Complete Count – Census 2020. “With two weeks left, our message is loud and clear: Californians need to act and fill out their Census forms. We have just days to secure funding and representation in our state for the next decade. We haven’t been without our challenges – federal operational changes and instability, the impact of COVID-19, wildfires and more. Given all that, we are proud of this milestone and all those who have stood up to be counted for their families and their communities. It is not too late- we encourage everyone to complete their Census form today.”

Earlier this month, the campaign announced it is expanding outreach to further support a complete and accurate count as the September 30 deadline for responses approaches. In particular, the campaign is conducting focused outreach in more than 2,000 Census tracts with low self-response rates. These efforts include a new phone banking initiative which aims to reach 1.1 million households in more than 1,100 tracts.

Across California, communities traditionally considered “hard-to-count” have responded to the 2020 Census in greater numbers than in 2010. And there are communities that have met and exceeded their final 2010 self-response rates – 38 out of 58 counties and 300 out of 482 cities have done so. Today, an estimated 2.1 –2.45 million[1] households in the hardest-to-count tracts have self-responded.

California is the hardest-to-count state in the nation, with a large, diverse population, and a high number of people considered traditionally hard-to-count, including recent immigrants, people who lack high-speed Internet access, and people with limited English proficiency.

Since the Census began in mid-March 2020, California’s Census campaign has been focused on executing an integrated, hyper-targeted outreach and communication effort designed to reach California’s estimated 4 million households in the hardest-to-count areas.

The campaign continues to remind all Californians that they can respond to the Census online at, by phone by calling the number available below, or by mail if they received a paper form. The Census is confidential and secure. Information is not shared with any other government agency. Most importantly- the Census is a count of everyone living in the country today, regardless of their status.  There is no citizenship question and every single Californian has a right to be counted.

For more information about the U.S. Census Bureau’s NRFU operation, including how to identify an official Census taker, please click here.


The California Complete Count – Census 2020 Office
Once each decade, the U.S. Census Bureau attempts to count every person in the United States. California leaders have invested $187.2 million toward a statewide outreach and communication campaign. For more information, please go to

DATA: To see data on response rates and hard-to-count characteristics in cities, counties, congressional and legislative districts in California, please visit: You can also visit the interactive self-response rate map at



[1]   The U.S. Census Bureau releases Census 2020 percentage self-response rates by census tract. This information does not include the actual number of households that have self-responded. The California Complete Count – Census 2020 Office uses the following two data sources to calculate estimates of how many households have self-responded to the Census.

  • Census Bureau 2014-2018 American Community Survey 5-year estimates, table B25002: Estimated occupied housing units by census tract.
  • Census Bureau address counts: The aggregated number of addresses in the bureau’s Master Address File following the 2018 Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA).


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